12 September 2017

Malawi: Aford to Observe 'Chihana Day' - Hero of Malawi Multiparty Democracy

Alliance for Democracy (Aford) has said it will observe April 6 dubbed 'Chihana Day' in honour of Malawi's hero of multiparty democracy Chakufwa Tom Chihana, saying his name should be recognised in the history of the country's politics.

Vice president of Aford, Martha Chiumia, said in Mzuzu on Saturday during a fundraising dinner dance organised by Revamp Aford Movement.

Aford calls April 6 'Chihana Day' in remembrance of April 6 1992 when Chihana walked into the den of lions when he landed at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) and openly did the unthinkable. He challenged the entrenched Kamuzu Banda's 31-year-old autocratic rule under the Malawi Congress Party (MCP).

Effectively, he put into motion, with others, a movement that saw the feared MCP regime crumble; hence entered into the annals of history as one of the founding fathers of Malawi's multipartyism.

Chihana died in June 2006.

"Some few people dreamts and spoke about multiparty in the country. Chihana did not just speak but acted on his words. He fought for it and now we are enjoying his fruiyts. Democracy started with Chihana. Therefore we will continue celebrating his life," said Chiumia.

The event brought together Aford members from all regions, the clergy from CCAP Livingstonia Synod and party sympithisers from abroad.

In his remarks, Aford MP for Karonga Central Constituency, Frank Mwenifumbo said the party has the "potential" to be strong again and do well in 2019 elections.

"During Chakufwa Chihana reign Aford was sweeping all parliamentary seats in the Northern Region. We are reclaiming that glory come 2019. Aford will be strong again," said Mwenifumbo.

Meanwhile, Chihana's tiny grave in the city of Mzuzu remains a desolate, abandoned site despite earlier government promises to erect a mausoleum befitting the fallen trade union, human rights activist and served as the country's second vice-president.

The administration of former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika pledged to construct a mausoleum. And after Bingu's death, his successor, Joyce Banda also said the structure would be built.

But now the grave has a faded Chihana portrait hanging under a falling roof, marked with untrimmed flowers, overgrown grass, and heavy dust settling on the unguarded grave, conjuring an eerie image, especially at night.

The grave stands in mockery of the state-of-the-art national mausoleum befitting a former Second Vice-President.

Former president Bakili Muluzi in 2014 donated K1 million (about $2 000) towards the upgrading of the grave site of Chihana.

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