There were no government representatives yesterday at the memorial service for victims of July 20 2011 nationwide anti-government demonstrations that claimed at least 19 lives.
During the ceremony at Zolozolo Cemetery in Mzuzu, organisers also unveiled tombstones at the event attended by leaders of various opposition political parties, civil society organisations (CSOs), the clergy, bereaved families and other sympathisers.
Yesterday’s event came two years after President Peter Mutharika urged Malawians to unite and sympathise with victims of July 20 2011 killings during the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration led by former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika.
In his sermon, the Reverend Maurice Munthali of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia said government was being childish by boycotting the ceremony.
He said: “The people who died were Malawians and I expected to see government officials here. I expected government to be here first.”
Munthali condemned the July 20 2011 killings, saying leadership does not give one powers to kill as the citizenry have the right to fight for freedom.
Organisers of the event said they invited government, but Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi accused them of using political podiums to invite Capital Hill.
The minister, who is the official government spokesperson, said July 20 is a day for mourning those that lost lives and not for pointing fingers at each other.
Said Dausi: “As a nation, this is a time of sorrow not finger-pointing. So, government will not be dragged into such fights.”
Mzuzu City legislator Leonard Njikho (Democratic Progressive Party-DPP) said he failed to take part because he went to a funeral in Nkhata Bay.
In his remarks, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera, who is also leader of opposition in Parliament, said it was time to take away government from oppressors.
He said: “We shouldn’t repeat things that are not in favour of Malawians. We need to unite. We should not get divided because of politicians.”
Former State vice-president Khumbo Kachali said if opposition leaders do not speak with one voice, they will give DPP room to bounce back in 2019. He said the blood that was shed should remind Malawians the need to see change.
Nine of the 19 people killed on July 20 2011 were buried at Zolozolo Cemetery in Mzuzu.