Tributes continue to pour in following the death of former Malawi Congress Party (MCP) President John Tembo who has been described by many as Malawi’s political towering figure of modern times.
Tembo, who held several cabinet portfolios in the Kamuzu Banda regime during the MCP one party system, died on Wednesday in Lilongwe aged 91.
Tembo’s son, John Tembo Junior said his father succumbed to diabetes which he fought for many decades.
John Tembo Junior said the is devastated following the death.
He said the family expected that his father would survive the illness which recently took a toll on his health.
Soon after news of his deteriorating health made rounds, politicians and family members gathered at the Lilongwe Private Clinic where he was hospitalised.
President Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera paid tribute to Tembo, whom he described as the pillar of Malawian politics.
In a statement, President Dr. Chakwera says he will remember Tembo not only as a political stalwart, but also as a source of inspiration and a repository of knowledge.
Chakwera says he is deeply saddened by the passing of JZU Tembo.
“Rt Hon. Dr JZU Tembo had extensive experience as a cabinet member with his contribution to our country, spanning six decades, including his role as first Malawian Minister of Finance and governor of the Reserve Bank of Malawi,” reads Chakwera’s statement in part.
Tembo also served as a Member of Parliament from 1961 to 2014 with few gaps between.
Chakwera says Tembo’s unwavering commitment to the Malawi Congress Party and his instrumental role in facilitating a democratic transfer of power within the party in 2014 will forever be remembered in the party’s national political history.
Chakwera took over the party’s presidency from JZU Tembo in 2013.
Vice President Saulos Chilima, who is also UTM President, says he is saddened by the demise of John Zenus Ungapake Tembo.
Posting on X, Chilima says: “We are seized by grief and sadness and extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends for the painful loss.”
Former President Bakili Muluzi also mourned Tembo.
Muluzi described Tembo as a hard working person who always wanted perfection in whatever tasks he was given.
“We worked together as cabinet ministers in those days. I will always remember him because of his hard working spirit.
“In 1964, when there was a cabinet crisis, he remained loyal to Kamuzu Banda. He never quit MCP until his death today,” he said.
Former President Peter Mutharika said he is devastated with Tembo’s death, describing him as a hard working person and who served Malawians well.
Mutharika said on personal leave, they were very good friends.