When it became apparent that presence of Vice-president and leader of the Transformation Movement (UTM) Saulos Chilima, MCP Lazarus Chakwera, UDF’s Atupele Muluzi, Aford president Enoch Chihana and other opposition party officials was not going to be recognised, Livingstonia Synod of the CCAP tried to squeeze them in but to the wrath of the government and other chiefs from the area.
According to protocol, the State President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika was supposed to deliver the last eulogy and all throughout the programme no mention of the presence of Chilima, Chakwera, Atupele or Chihana was made, indicating that once Minister of Local Government Kondwani Nankhumwa, who was delegated to speak for the President, then the clergy should continue with their spiritual service.
The chiefs rose and confronted the synod leaders and dismantled the microphone.
One local chief, who had spoken earlier describing late Themba la Mathemba Chikulamayembe as a friend of President Mutharika, grabbed the microphone again and told the mourning crowd: “Chikulamayembe was a peaceful man. Let’s not create chaos here. The church must not create chaos here.”
Nankhumwa spoke on behalf of the President as announced by Master of ceremony, an employee of state broadcaster MBC, that Mutharika was too shocked to speak at the funeral and instead the Minister of Local Government on his speak on his behalf.
After Nankhumwa’s speech, the church moderator Rev. Nyondo came to the microphone and told the people that the church had lined up Chilima and Chakwera to give their eulogies, saying: “Everyone must be given the chance to mourn our departed chief. The mourning is incomplete without the eulogies by Honourables Chilima and Chakwera because they represent another section of the society.”
But this did not go down well with the chiefs and the government officials, saying no one is supposed to speak after the President, according to government protocol.
The ceremony then went ahead that saw Themba la Mathemba Chikulamayembe being buried under military honours.