Malawians on Sunday eulogised politician and business mogul Hellen Singh, popularly known as Abusa Singh in political circles, as a strong-willed, influential and generous person who had the desire to transform the country.
Singh died on Saturday night aged 64 at Blantyre Adventist Hospital (BAH) in Blantyre where she was taken to on Friday for medical treatment after months of feeling unwell, according to family members.
She was until her death president of the United Independence Party (UIP).
Singh was among the 12 presidential candidates who contested during the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections that ushered in President Peter Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and ousted Joyce Banda and her People’s Party (PP).
The late Singh becomes the second 2014 presidential hopeful to die after James Nyondo of the National Salvation Front who died aged 47 in July 2015.
On Sunday, representatives of government, opposition parties and Malawians at large expressed shock at the death of one of the country’s influential and colourful businesspersons.
Hundreds of people joined relations, UIP members and congregants of her Christian ministry known as Worship Centre at her Mandala residence where vigil is taking place.
Her death came barely a day after the nation buried a veteran politician and former Cabinet minister during the one-party State, Robson Watayachanga Chirwa, who died last Tuesday in Lilongwe.
According to the Singh family spokesperson, Asante Masache, Singh’s body will be collected tomorrow from College of Medicine (CoM) in Blantyre to Comesa Hall at 9am where prayers and viewing will be conducted.
Thereafter, at 12:30pm the body will depart Comesa for Limbe where it will be cremated as per her wish, according to Masache.
The cremation process will be open to only family members and close friends, according to the family spokesperson.
Masache said the late Singh was diagnosed with cancer last year and has been unwell for the past five months.
Singh owned a business empire comprising Singh Trust, SS Rent-a-Car and real estate in both Blantyre and Lilongwe, among others.
She joined active politics in 2009 when she contested as an independent member of Parliament (MP) for Ntcheu Bwanje South Constituency before founding the UIP in 2012.
In the May 20 2014 presidential race she finished 10th out of the 12 candidates after amassing 9 668 votes, representing 0.2 percent of the total votes.
Meanwhile, government has described the late Singh as a bold female politician who was willing to contribute to the country’s development at all times.
Government spokesperson Nicholas Dausi said Singh was a woman of great innovative ideas and government was deeply saddened with her death.
On his part, United Democratic Front (UDF) spokesperson Ken Ndanga said his party was also saddened by her death.
President of Umodzi Party (UP) John Chisi said he was touched and shocked because the country had lost a strong female leader.
The late Singh is survived by two sons and originally came from Mauyana Village, Traditional Authority Kwataine in Ntcheu District.