Livingstonia Synod general secretary Reverend Levi Nyondo and the church moderator Reverend Douglas Chipofya have refused to apologise to Tumbuka chiefs for demanding that some political leaders speak during the funeral ceremony of Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe on Tuesday.
Nyondo said there was nothing wrong that he and Chipofya did.
“As church, our role is to ensure that democracy is at work, this is why we were requesting the Leader of Opposition in parliament Right Honourable Lazarus Chakwera and the president of the United Transformation Movement (UTM) Right Honourable Saulos Chilima to give their eulogies,” said Nyondo.
A letter signed by chief principal group village headman Kabazamawe, chief principal group village headman Khalapamhanya, principal group village headman Kamzinga and principal group village headman Hunga is asking the top synod officials to apologise for allegedly causing mayhem during the funeral ceremony.
“We did not like the conduct of the two synod officials for dishonouring our late paramount chief by causing confusion and chaos during thefuneral ceremony,” says the letter in part.
The letter says the funeral ceremony was a state event, saying as such it is the family in collaboration with the state who decides who should speak and who should not be.
Tension started building at the funeral after director of ceremonies Chimbizga Msimuko of taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) clarified on an intervention by Nyondo to acknowledge the presence of estranged Vice-President Saulos Chilima at the ceremony.
But the director of ceremonies responded by asking all speakers to only acknowledge President Peter Mutharika in their salutations. Nyondo, who was on the initial list of speakers, was later skipped.
The synod leadership, which sanctioned commencement of the service before the President’s arrival, accused government of sidelining other political leaders.
Immediately after taking over the programme, a visibly fired up synod moderator the Reverend Douglas Chipofya announced that Nyondo, Chakwera and Chilima would speak before the church section of the ceremony. His announcement drew applause from sections of the mourners.
He said: “If the GS [Nyondo] does not speak, it means the Synod of Livingstonia has not spoken and that is unheard of.”
Chipofya’s announcement stirred panic and group village head Kazamawe moved in to seize the microphone from Chipofya, stating that protocol does not allow anyone to speak after the President.
At this point, Nyondo emotionally threatened that his church would not proceed with the funeral programme and declared that the chiefs carry over: “Tiphalazgenge yaye! Mafumu walutulizgenge [We won’t preach, let the chiefs takeover].”
But the clergy were persuaded to proceed and Kazamawe said : “We accept that government erred by not including other political leaders on the programme, but they should not speak after the President has already spoken. This should never happen again.
“We ask you as a church to preach the message in honour of Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe who loved attending church services.”
When the synod resumed the programme, Chipofya ignored the President’s presence and only saluted Chilima, Chakwera, the Speaker and other dignitaries.
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