Youthful Traditional Authority (T/A) Bvumbwe of Thyolo on Sunday openly told Malawi President Joyce Banda at the burial ceremony of High Court Judge Joseph Manyungwa that he was disappointed with distribution of People’s Party (PP) T-shirts at the solemn occasion.
PP members were reportedly distributing the orange T-shirts at the funeral to party youths as has been the case at other functions to make the party’s presence felt.
Thyolo is regarded as the stronghold of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and its members were also present at the funeral in their party’s blue T-shirts as well as blue cloth.
In his speech at the funeral also attended by other high profile people, including judges and Cabinet ministers, T/A Bvumbwe said the distribution of T-shirts at the funeral degraded him.
Said Bvumbwe: “[Madam President] I want to say what has happened here. Your boys were distributing T-shirts. This is bad and degrading. It should never happen again. This should never happen again, if you want, hold a rally and distribute the T-shirts there.”
As T/A Bvumbwe made his speech, the President was seen nodding in agreement whereas PP regional director of youth (South) Lemani Chapitapansi, who was involved in the distribution of the T-shirts even to the local grave diggers, cast his face down.
DPP officials who attended the funeral included the controversial Southern Region governor Noel Masangwi and the party’s publicity secretary Nicholas Dausi.
Most mourners supported the chief’s statement and they clapped hands for him.
More unpleasant drama followed at the cemetery after the President left. There were chants of ‘Boma! Boma! Boma!’ and hand-clapping when the director of ceremonies called Masangwi and Dausi to lay their wreaths on Manyungwa’s grave.
In an apparent reference to the reaction of DPP followers, a representative of the bereaved family, who also condemned the act, said political show-offs are simple when it is somebody else that is bereaved.
During the ceremony, youths from both PP and DPP were seen in groups discussing issues in low tones.
The President was said to have been too shocked to give her eulogy to Manyungwa, who died after a short illness on Friday night, and delegated Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ralph Kasambara.
In his eulogy, Kasambara said Manyungwa was one of the dedicated and experienced judges.
He said the Judiciary has lost a charming judge who would joke with anyone in the corridors at the High Court.
High Court Judge John Katsala, speaking on behalf of the Judiciary, said the courts were deeply shocked and worried to lose a judge of Manyungwa’s experience.
He said there were already few judges in the country, hence, losing one was a big blow as the Judiciary is already accused of delaying cases.
Katsala said the deceased worked at a private law firm before he joined the State Advocate Chambers where he became deputy chief State advocate in 2001, then chief resident magistrate and was appointed High Court judge in 2004.
He said: “It takes time to become an experienced judge. He [Manyungwa] was maturing, but death has not allowed that to continue.”
Katsala said if he lived, Manyungwa had 19 more years before retirement. He died at 46.