Paramount Chief Kyungu has defied murmurs of protests to name the 102-kilometre Chitipa-Karonga Road after Bingu wa Mutharika, a decision President Peter Mutharika denied bulldozing.
The Ngonde supreme leader said chiefs from the two districts settled to christen the Chinese-built tarmac road Bingu Highway in honour of the deceased for what “he has done for us and the entire country.”
Kyungu was speaking during a rally at Baka, when President Mutharika visited the district to console people affected by massive floods that ripped nearly 2 000 homes, displaced almost 10 000 citizens, buried crops in sand and washed away livestock and other valuable goods for the past two months.
There was calm and heavy police presence on the streets of Karonga as the chief delivered a subtle backlash at youthful activist Steven Simsokwe who was supposedly organising demonstrations against the naming of the road which symbolises a 2007 switchover of diplomatic ties from Taiwan to the Peoples Republic China.
On Monday, the outspoken Simsokwe accused some traditional leaders in the area of bootlicking and allegedly making political pronouncements without hearing out their people.
However, Kyungu said history will absolve the chiefs because it is clear the road, launched by Mutharika’s predecessor Joyce Banda on January 7 2013, has marked an end to clouds of dust that used to haunt what used to be a rugged earth road snaking past the hilly terrain.
“We are peaceful people and some misguided people are there among us. Whatever you are hearing on radios or reading in the newspapers is not representative of the indigenous people of Karonga,” said Kyungu. n