In Memory of his late Zimbabwean wife Malawi President recreats the "White House"

Malawi's President Bingu wa Mutharika defended himself that the multi-million dollar mausoleum he unveiled last Christmas for his late wife, Ethel, was solely funded by well-wishers and not a penny from government went into the project, AfricaNews monitored the event broadcast live on state radio and television, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).\r\n

He was speaking at his Ndata Farm where guests included Zambian president Rupiah Banda, Tanzania leader Jakata Kikwete, Mozambican Prime Minister Bonafacio Ali and hundreds of government and ruling party officials and locals.

Describing the mausoleum for the First Lady who died two years ago after a battle with cancer as a "Taj Mahal type", Mutharika explained: “No single public money was used in the construction of the monument. Some 2,000 well-wishers from Malawi and abroad funded the mausoleum”.

The white structure lies about 30 kilometres away from the commercial city of Blantyre.

“The project has been complemented by funds from well-wishers, both local and across the borders, and no public money was used to construct this structure. Your money has assisted in coming up with this mausoleum," he said.

Mutharika also said he personally designed the white marbled burial place with a life span of 200 years.

“The work was considerably and emotionally conceptualized," he said. It consists of a dome, a gallery and a basement where his Zimbabwe-born wife of over 30 years is buried.

Mutharika, whose government also built a mausoleum for the late first Malawi leader Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda in the capital city, Lilongwe, said the new tomb is the "property of all Malawians as this was their national identity. Everybody should take time to visit the mausoleum."

CCAP cleric Reverend Felix Chingota described the late Ethel Mutharika as the person who was "always approachable and available for the marginalized poor communities."

He compared her to Jesus Christ who healed a demonized person, asking Malawians to reflect on the humble and charitable work by the late first lady.

"The First Lady did a lot towards national development by empowering poor communities like women, orphans and the elderly through her Ethel Mutharika Foundation. Malawi will always remember the work of a humble and approachable person to the poor. As we celebrate her life, we should reflect more on her way of life,” said Chingota.

Mutharika urged Malawians to have a spirit of forgiving and forgetting because nobody is perfect.

"Let us look at the possibility of building peace. Negatives should not be magnified to an extent they should swallow all the good things. I therefore ask men of God not to bash us but unite all people,” Mutharika said.

But prior to commencement of the ceremony, journalists from the private media were taken aback when State House Press Officer Albert Mungomo accompanied by senior police officer Willie Mwaluka said they were not allowed to take any pictures.

“I have been instructed by the organising committee that only MBC TV and Malawi News Agency (MANA) are the ones allowed to take photos,” he said. Everybody else, he added, was supposed to get their pictures and footage from the two state-run institutions