The stage appears to be set for President Peter Mutharika and his embattled Vice-President Saulos Chilima to meet as both have invitations to attend this year’s Umhlangano wa Maseko Ngoni annual celebrations.
According to a communication we have seen from the Maseko Ngoni headquarters, among the political figures invited are Mutharika and Chilima, who is a Ngoni Impi or adviser.
Leader of opposition and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera has also been invited.
“It is expected that the function, to take place on September 1, will be graced by His Excellency, the State President of Malawi, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika and other dignitaries from within and abroad,” reads the communication in part.
In an interview, the event’s organising chairperson Inkosi Makwangwala confirmed expecting the two leaders to be present at the Umhlangano wa Maseko, adding invitations have been extended to them through their offices.
He said: “We have invited several dignitaries from Malawi and abroad to be part of this event. On the list of expected guests, we also have some political figures, which include the President, the Vice-President, and other political party leaders.”
This will probably be the first time the two will meet at an event since Chilima severed ties with the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and formed his own United Transformation Movement (UTM), which has emerged one of DPP’s biggest rivals in the run-up to the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
When contacted to confirm if the two offices have received the invites for the event, both Mutharika and Chilima’s spokespersons were coy.
State House press officer Mgeme Kalilani said: “Ooh! Who said the Office of the President has received the invitation?”
On his part, press officer in the office of the Vice-President Pilirani Phiri said he could not confirm whether the invite reached their office, but promised to give a response when the event draws closer.
Meanwhile, some sources close to the Vice-President, who spoke on condition of anonymity, yesterday said Chilima would attend the event.
The celebrations are scheduled to take place from August 31 to September 1 at Inkosi Ya Amakhosi Chikuse Gomani-1 monument ground at Nkolimbo Village in the area of Inkosi Kwataine in Ntcheu.
As part of the event, the Ngonis will pay their tributes to the first Ngoni chief Inkosi Chikuse Gomani at a place where his remains are resting called Kulidiwa. A goat will be killed as part of the ritual known as Kukhwisula.
The event will also showcase some of the Ngoni traditional practices such as chinamwali, food and cultural dances.
The budget for the whole celebrations is estimated at K16 million. The theme for this year’s celebration is Unity is Power.