Malawi: HRDC Wants Malawi Pro-Democracy Hero Chakufwa Chihana Honoured With Statue

7 December 2019

The Human Rights Defender Coalition (HRDC) has said it wants Malawi's pro-democrcay hero Chakufwa Tom Chihana to be honoured with statue.

Chakufwa Tom Chihana is a name that is associated with multiparty politics of Malawi 6th April in 1992, Chakufwa Chihana was arrested at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Lilongwe upon arrival to fight for multiparty democracy

HRDC chairman, Timothy Mtambo made the declaration at Rumphi Boma during a public meeting.

He said they want to recognise the role Chihana played in his brave fight against one party dictatorship and champion multiparty democracy in this country as such he deserves to be honored.

Mtambo said as someone who took a leading role to fight blood thirsty dictatorship of Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda regime, Chihana needed to be honoured with a statue.

"Kamuzu regime was notorious with permanently eliminating and detaining people without trial. But Chihana braved that putting his life on line which later stirred agitation for change and democracy was won," he said.

"If we would declare him founding Father of Democracy nobody cannot dispute that fact.He need to be honoured with a statue," said Mtambo.

He said it was sad that the country is honouring underserving elements forgetting key icon Chihana.

"We are saddened to see Chihana who played a key role to bring democracy not getting honor he derseves. It is saddening we treat most of our heroes like nobodies," he said.

The rally which took place amidst sweltering heat attracted a huge crowd of Rumphi residents started with a march from Bumba to the trading centre.

Business was at standstill as shops, bars which had operated normally earlier in the day shut doors until the event wound up.

Mtambo was mobbed by enthusiastic cheering supporters, chanting anti-government songs.

He praised Rumphi citizenry for turning up in numbers this he said was a demonstration that it was a citadel of democracy.

Rumphi Central Constituency is where Chihana once served as an MP.

Chihana's tiny grave in the city of Mzuzu behind Reserve Bank of Malawi 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 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 late Chihana, is also among 37 individuals and organisations from 24 countries that were awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award since 1984. He got his award in 1992.

On 6 April 1992, Chakufwa Tom 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.

Also speaking at the citizen rally, Billy Mayaya a chair for Central Region Chapter observed that Rumphi deserved more for its contribution to democracy and national economy through mines but the citizenry has been oppressed since time immemorial.

"Your district has been oppressed for a long time.You have issues of quota system and about mines which has made your life difficult.

"You need to take to task your MPs working with the current to do something on your development concerns," said Mayaya.

Northern regional HRDC chairperson, Happy Mhango claimed in Rumphi East Constituency people were unfairly losing land to mining firms.

"In Rumphi East Constituency people are unfairly losing land to mining firms. Yet MP of that side, Kamlepo Kalua has strangely kept quite.He is not outspoken as we used to know him. He is the shadow of former self," he said.

Speaking during the same event a Rumphi based HRDC member, Moir Walita said all ongoing project which stalled at some point resuscitated after demonstrations.

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