At exactly 1.39pm yesterday, the body of Roseby Dinala, popularly known as Mai Dinala, a staunch supporter of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), was lowered into a grave at Chitawira Cemetery in Blantyre.
President Lazarus Chakwera and the First Lady Monica graced the church service at St Columba CCAP in Blantyre, but hundreds of MCP and UTM Party supporters also attended the funeral service which started with a ceremony at Soche Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Ground before proceeding to St Columba and later to the cemetery.
During the church service, Covid-19 preventive measures were strictly observed with mourners wearing masks, practising social distancing while less than 50 people were allowed into the church. Water and soap for hand washing and sanitisers were made available for use by mourners before entering the church.
In his eulogy, Chakwera described the late Dinala as a pillar of the MCP who stood by the party through thick and thin.
Said the President: “She never left the party even when she may not have been happy about some things. She was a pillar of the party who always stood firm.”
Chakwera left soon after the church service.
But in contrast with the church service, Covid-19 measures were not adhered to both at the Soche SDA ground and cemetery despite the presence of several government officials.
Some notable people at the burial ceremony were Minister of Youth and Sports Ulemu Msungama, who laid a wreath on behalf of Chakwera and Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture Michael Usi, who laid a wreath on behalf of Vice-President Saulos Chilima.
Other notable figures who attended the funeral were the country’s former official hostess Cecilia Kadzamira, MCP treasurer general Albert Mbawala, who laid a wreath on behalf of former MCP president John Tembo and United Democratic Front secretary general Kandi Padambo, who laid a wreath on behalf of all political parties.
At the Soche SDA ground, there was no social distancing as mourners, both in tents and on the open air, sat close to each other.
Furthermore, the number of mourners exceeded 100, despite the newly gazetted Covid-19 measures restricting funeral attendees to a maximum of 50. Neither soap, water buckets, nor hand sanitisers were available for the crowd to use at the ground and the cemetery, and some attendees did not wear masks.
When contacted on why the new Covid-19 preventive measures were not enforced, Blantyre City Council spokesperson Anthony Kasunda declined to comment.
Born on August 8 1937, Dinala is survived by four daughters, three sons, 27 grandchildren and 29 great grandchildren.
She died on Tuesday at Blantyre Adventist Hospital, three days after celebrating her 82nd birthday. She was an MCP diehard since 1964.