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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Families of Murdered Mwanza 4 still in dark: 41 years later

The families of the ‘Mwanza Four’ have endured a lifetime of anguish, following the brutal murder of their beloved ones 41 years ago.

Former Chikwawa legislator David Chiwanga and Cabinet ministers Dick Matenje, Aaron Gadama and Twaibu Sangala were murdered during the one-party state under the Malawi Congress Party (MCP).

But the memories of May 18 1983 when the families received news of their death remain a constant reminder of the justice that has eluded them for years.

The MCP regime tried to cover up the deaths as a traffic accident and claimed that the four were fleeing to Mozambique. Their vehicle fell into a ditch at Thambani in Mwanza.

But despite the arrest in 1995 of Banda alongside his official hostess Cecilia Kadzamira, former MCP president John Tembo, MacDonald Kalemba, Augustino Leston Likaomba and MacWilliam Lunguzi, their case was dismissed by the High Court for lack of evidence.

Joseph Gadama, sixth son to the late Gadama said they still have not found closure.

“Until this day, we hardly know what happened to our fathers. At the dispensation of the multiparty era, we had hope that the governments would have given us closure.

“We heard about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but that has not materialised,” he said.

In his September 2020 State of the Nation Address, President Lazarus Chakwera promised to constitute a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to handle complaints about past human rights abuses, including those committed during the MCP regime.

In a separate interview, Chiwanga’s widow, Bernadette, said she has been waiting for 41 years for justice and closure but to no avail

She said: “When the United Democratic Front regime came, they promised us justice. Now, several regimes have come and gone, but there is no justice yet.”

But she said she is certain that justice remains in the hands of God.

Similar sentiments were expressed by her second born son, Augustine, who said as a family, they have embraced the spirit of forgiveness.

As years go by, the Mwanza Four’s hope for justice dwindles. Yet, they refuse to give up, driven by the memory of their loved ones and the need for closure.

Their story also mirrors the pain and frustrations other families have encountered, emanating from atrocities committed during the MCP regime and are yet to get any justice.

Numerous atrocities that were committed during the MCP era compelled the United Democratic Front to form a National Compensation Tribunal to pay off victims of the one-party rule.

But in 2017, an Ombudsman report established that politicians abused the tribunal.

The report, titled ‘Malawi’s Unhealed Wounds’ established that politicians influenced the tribunal by prioritising payments to politically-connected individuals at the expense of thousands of victims who remain unattended.

The report, therefore, ordered the government to, within three months, settle about 15 000 claims unsettled by the tribunal which was shut down in 2006.

Unfortunately, the former governing Democratic Progressive Party defied the order while the current Tonse Alliance administration has done nothing to effect compensation since it took power in 2020.

– Report by Nation on Sunday

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