Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe was on Saturday booed for defending President Peter Mutharika who was accused of shunning major Ngoni cultural events in Mzimba.
Gondwe was responding to former vice-president Khumbo Kachali’s remarks during the unveiling of a tombstone of the late Inkosi ya Makosi M’mbelwa IV at Edingeni Royal Headquarters that unlike former presidents, Mutharika has never visited the headquarters.
Said Kachali: “We thank you who have been sent to represent the President. But we pray that one day he [Peter Mutharika] will set foot here at Edingeni.
“All presidents, starting with Kamuzu Banda have visited us here at Edingeni, except the incumbent. Those of you close to the President need to remind him to be with his people.”
Kachali, who is legislator for the area (Mzimba South West), said it is important for a President to visit the headquarters and be with “his people” both in happiness and in sorrow.
But in response, Gondwe appeared to have angered the audience when he claimed that Mutharika has more years in office as President to attend their cultural events.
Some people in the audience could be heard murmuring disapproving of Gondwe’s response, saying the President may not be in power as long as Gondwe stated.
The minister had a torrid time backing Mutharika as his speech was interrupted by boos from the audience.
Said Gondwe: “You said he [Peter Mutharika] is the only one who has not visited Edingeni. I will tell you the reason. All other presidents are not in power. He is still the incumbent President. So, we can’t say he will never visit this place. What if he will come tomorrow? Or in three years’ time? That’s why I can’t answer that question. I will deliver the message.”
Hitting back at earlier speakers in Tumbuka, Gondwe said he will not mince words or sugarcoat his statement when reporting back to the President.
“Ine fundo iyo namumphalira niyakuti bala bamusinjiro chomene bala ndimo bayowoyeranga ntheura. Ivi namphala [I will tell him that those very disrespectful individuals are the ones who said these sentiments. I will inform him].
“I will do that, in case you meet him and you say things to the contrary. You may praise him in private. It happens. I know this because I am in the system. So, at a public event like this one, there are things we need to say and there are other things we don’t need to say,” he said.
Taking his turn, Senior Chief Mtwalo said the President needs to be reminded that “there is no party without people” and that “chiefs are custodians of the people”.
“A chief never dies. The moment one chief dies, there is already a replacement. The point is, politicians should visit their people,” he said.
Other notable politicians during the event included Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera and Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya. n