Mutharika says Malawi lost 'political icon' in Former Speaker Khonje

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Malawi President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika on Wednesday paid tribute to the country's longest serving Speaker of the National Assembly, Nelson Khonje, who died Sunday aged 95 and was interred at his home village in Mwanza before thousands of people and dignitaries.

Dausi laying a wreath Dausi laying a wreath
28
November

 

The President said the country had lost a "political icon." The sentiments were expressed on behalf of the President by Homeland Security Minister Nicholas Dausi.

 

The President had directed that  Khonje be accorded military honours. Dausi said  Mutharika was grieved with the death, adding that Khonje was an honourable Speaker and politician during the one-party era of the Malawi Congress Party.

 

People from all walks of life, braved rains and descended on Chikolosa Village Traditional Authority Kanduku in Mwanza district, to escort  Khonje through his last mile.

 

He served as Speaker of Parliament for 12 years during the one party Malawi Congress Party (MCP) led government from 1975 to 1987. 



High profile figures, who included cabinet ministers, current Speaker of Parliament Catherine Gotani-Hara, MCP leader Lazarus Chakwera, former speakers and other government top officers.

 

In their eulogies, they all described late Khonje as an accomplished politician who deserves a special place in the country’s vault of history.

 

“We are talking about a man who was already a Member of Parliament for Mwanza at the time when founding president Hastings Kamuzu Banda was declaring Mwanza as a district in 1971. This only means almost everything that Mwanza is proud of today could be attributed to him. Such a man deserves special place in our history,” said Dausi.

 

Concurring with Dausi, Speaker of Parliament Gotani Hara said to be at the helm of parliament for 12 years automatically put Khonje ahead of every person who has been speaker before.


“And as we stand today, he remains the longest serving speaker of all times. Such a man deserves respect,” she said.


And speaking on behalf of former speakers, Chimunthu Banda described Khonje as a “dean of former speakers”.


“Everyone who has been a Speaker before would agree that there comes a moment when you have to make a crucial or controversial decision. These were moments some of us would run to honourable men like Nelson Khonje for advise,” said  Banda.


In his sermon, Pastor Timothy Nyirenda took advantage of the availability of politicians from across the divide to preach about unity.


“You are all here in peace, love and harmony, may this continue beyond the death of  Honourable Khonje? This kind of unity is what God really wants from us,” said the cleric, who is better known as TY Nyirenda.


Born on December 6 1923 and died just 12 days before his 96th birthday, Khonje also served as member of parliament for Mwanza central for 21 years.

 

Khonje, a secondary school teacher by profession, joined politics in 1971 to become Member of Parliament (MP) for Mwanza, then the only constituency in the district.


In 1993, at the dawn of multiparty democracy, he quit MCP and joined United Democratic Front (UDF) before retaining his seat as MP for Mwanza Central Constituency in 1994 first post-independence multiparty general elections.

 

Khonje is survived by five children, 72 grand and great grand children.

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