Cultural ethnic group Muhlakho wa Alhomwe has demanded an apology from former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) director of women Patricia Kaliati for skipping the title in addressing Paramount Chief Ngolongoliwa on Saturday.
Briefing journalists in Blantyre yesterday, the group described Kaliati as disrespectful and demeaning Ngolongoliwa for addressing him without the title ‘paramount’ during the launch of United Transformation Movement (UTM) at Masintha ground in Lilongwe on Saturday.
During the news conference held at Mulli Brothers Limited (MBL) offices in Chigumula, Muhlako wa Alhomwe chief executive officer Muchanakhwaye Mpuluka said Kaliati should apologise within seven days or risk facing a vigil at her home.
But in an interview yesterday, Kaliati, who is also Mulanje West legislator and UTM interim secretary general, laughed off the demands.
She said she does not see the reason to apologise.
Said Kaliati: “Isn’t that his name? Maybe I was not referring to their chief, so why are they worried? There are several Ngolongoliwas around and one is in Bangwe who happens to be my good friend too. Their reaction shows that whatever I said about him is true.”
Mpuluka also emphasised that Muhlako wa Alhomwe is a cultural grouping which should not be dragged into politics, saying: “We are not impressed with the references that were made towards our chief. They spoke of one thing which is disrespect. We wonder how Kaliati would feel if somebody stood on a political podium to be speaking about her chief in that manner.
“If she does not apologise within this given period, we will organise a vigil at her place until she tells us what she wants from us.”
Flanked by the grouping’s Central Region executive member Jubeck Monjeza and Southern Region Chapter vice-chairperson Blessings Makwinja, Mpuluka said Mulhako wa Alhomwe’s focus remains advancing the cultural values and beliefs of the tribe.
The group further warned Kaliati of serious consequences if she does not humble herself and apologise.
Chipped in Monjeza: “Nkhondo imene ayamba a Kaliati ifenso tikhonza kumenya. Takhala nawo nthawi yayitali ndipo tikudziwa nyasi zawo. [We have the ability to hit back. We have worked with her and we know her skeletons].”
Mpuluka dismissed Kaliati’s assertions during the UTM rally that Mulkho wa Alhomwe chairperson Leston Mulli and Paramount Chief Ngolongoliwa were behind the formation of UTM which initially started as the ‘Chilima’ Movement within the governing DPP and lobbied for support to have Vice-President Saulos Chilima as the party’s presidential candidate in the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
In apparent reference to a meeting at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre attended by President Peter Mutharika and co-chaired by Mulli and Ngolongoliwa where Kaliati and fellow ‘Chilima’ Movement members Noel Msangwi and Lewis Ngalande were asked to withdraw their support for Chilima, she told the UTM rally that the chief and Mulli initiated the movement.
But Mpuluka, who apparently did not attend the Sanjika Palace meeting according to The Nation sources at State House, yesterday said: “I can categorically refute here that the two people she mentioned had nothing to do with the formation of their thing. If at all that was the case, then why is she still there when the purported leaders of the group are no longer there?”
However, Kaliati said yesterday she stands by what she said during the UTM rally and dared Mulhako wa Alhomwe to summon her alongside Mulli, Paramount Chief Ngolongoliwa, Masangwi, Ngalande, Mulanje South legislator Bon Kalindo, former first lady Callista Mutharika, Chilima and Ben Chidyaonga to get her response.
She said: “It is unfortunate that these people are stepping into something they have little knowledge about. I do not have a history of any mental illness, therefore, I know exactly what I am talking about… I was invited by those two [Mulli and Ngolongoliwa] in the presence of Masangwi.”
Kaliati said she will not be cowed by threats of unmasking her alleged ‘skeletons’, saying she has enough ammunition to take head-on anyone who attacks her.
She said: “I know DPP from A to Z and everybody who is in the party. Before these people even joined the party, I was there. If they go that route they will embarrass some seniors in the party. Who does not know Patricia Kaliati in this country till now? Let them try me…”
University of Livingstonia political analyst George Phiri said given the current circumstances where Lhomwe chiefs have willingly accepted to actively participate in politics, it would be difficult to separate the grouping from politics.
Former president and founder of DPP Bingu Mutharika was instrumental in the formation of the tribal group and he was also its first patron. His borther, incumbent president Peter Mutharika, is also a member Muhlako and attends its annual activities.