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Gwanda Chakuamba said to be destitute, shamelessly tries to get support from Malawi Government

Gwanda ChakuambaFrom the country’s independence in 1964 until 1980, Chakuamba was a key figure within the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), which was the sole legal political party. During the rule of President Hastings Kamuzu Banda, he held many cabinet positions and was Commander of the MCP youth group Malawi Young Pioneers. Known for his temperamental nature, Chakuamba was a fearless opponent of John Tembo. 

 

One account has it Tembo and Chakuamba squared up for a fist fight at Nasawa MYP Training Base where Dr. Banda was within minutes of arriving to inaugurate the 1976 Youth Week Rally. In February 1980, Chakuamba was ‘charged’, on the behest of Tembo and Kadzamira, with sedition and given a 22-year prison sentence.

 

 

Chakuamba was released from jail in July 1993, a month after voters endorsed a return to multiparty politics in a referendum. On his release, he joined the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) but soon returned to the MCP and became secretary-general of the party. In February 1994, the MCP announced that Banda was to be the party’s presidential candidate in the forthcoming general election; Chakuamba was the vice-presidential candidate.

 

In Malawi’s first multiparty elections, held on 17 May 1994, Bakili Muluzi and his UDF party defeated Banda and the MCP. Banda retired from politics in August 1994 and Chakuamba succeeded to the party leadership.

 

It is said that the man from the region known as the lower Shire is struggling to live a normal life due to financial problems in his old age and has sent a save our souls (SOS) call to well-wishers for assistance.

 

Chakuamba now 81 for those of us that know him well was a very cruel man and I cannot say I am shedding any tears for his miserable life in his old age. For a long time he vanquished political foes in the lower Shire with impunity.

 

He was responsible for getting Khembo arrested in the 70’s because he viewed him as a political threat in the Lower Shire. Khembo paid him back by being a star witness in his first trial when Kamuzu Banda arrested him of being a traitor.

 

 Chakuamba resides in Chimwankhunda Dam Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) residential estate in Blantyre where told Malawi nation reporters that he is living under constant threats of eviction as well as disconnection of water and electricity.

 

He said: “They [MHC officials] came threatening to seal the house and I wondered where I would live. I also have problems with water and electricity bills. But for more you can talk to [Moses] Dossi.”

 

Dossi, a former Cabinet minister in the Bakili Muluzi administration who was in company with Chakuamba at the time of the interview, said as a veteran politician, Chakuamba deserves assistance from the State to lead a normal life.

 

 

Why should the Malawi government feel obligated to help this man who invented cashgate before it became fashionable? Gwanda as Minister in the Kamuzu Banda cabinet amassed great worthy. The amount of cash that he used to buy back good graces with the Bakili Muluzi UDF.

 

Said Dossi: “We should not wait for someone to die then assist with an expensive coffin. He should have a house to live in, mobility in the form of a vehicle and about K300 000 [$600] or K400 000 [$800 per month.”

 

 

After the 1994 general elections won by the first post-independence multiparty president Bakili Muluzi and his United Democratic Front (UDF), Chakuamba became leader of opposition in Parliament. He later served as Cabinet minister in Bingu WA Mutharika’s administration in 2004.

 

Before his arrest, Chakuamba owned several properties, including Mount Pleasant No 1 house, Milare house, one house each in Chigumula and Nyambadwe in Blantyre, an inn in Mangochi and a number of farms.

 

“I had loans with the banks and after the arrest, they [banks] took everything. Currently, I have nothing,” said Chakuamba.

During the interview, Chakuamba also said that while his United States of America-based children occasionally assist him, the assistance is not enough to keep him going.

 

The veteran politician, who is not in good health, underwent medical treatment in South Africa.

 

Chakuamba claimed President Peter Mutharika assured him of support, saying: “The President told me that I will only die because of God’s will, but not lack of medication. He then sent me to South Africa to seek medical help and I am grateful to him.”

 

Meanwhile, Dossi has written Mutharika asking him to assist Chakuamba.

 

Dossi said Chakuamba would like to personally thank the President for medical assistance.

 

State Residences chief of staff Peter Mukhito last evening said there are systems followed regarding handling of letters addressed to the President and that only his secretary can know about them; hence, could not confirm or deny receipt of Dossi’s letter.

 

As Minister of youth and Culture his Malawi Young pioneers were worse than the DPP Cadets. They roamed Malawi cities like marauding dogs threatening citizens and many people in the country.

 

I have no sympathy for Gwanda Chakuamba.

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