Malawi's hostess speaks out

Malawi's First Lady, Cecilia spent at least 30 years with President Banda until his death in 1997


The official hostess of post-independence leader and late president, Dr Hastings Banda, has broken her silence to tell the BBC of her anger at accusations that she manipulated him into leaving her most of his estate.
Cecilia Kadzamira explains to BBC's Focus on Africa her side of the story


Cecilia Kadzamira's decision to speak out comes as relatives of the former president go to court on Wednesday in a continuing row about the will. They have sued interim administrators of the estate for allegedly failing to disclose its value.


When his will was read out in early 1998, his family sought a court injunction against it being administered after it emerged that nearly everything had been left to his longtime companion.

They alleged that she had twisted Dr Banda's hand to change the will since it was dated when he was very old and almost certainly senile.
However the long term confidant of Dr Banda contests these suggestions, saying she was not getting the lion's share of his will - but less than 25%.
"The relatives came and went but I was always there," she said.
Damaging stories
"There had been so many stories - all damaging stories - all of them against me, but because of the honour and respect I had and have for Dr Banda I have said nothing. This is my first time to say something and I am saying it to the BBC."
She said her bank accounts had been frozen for a time and she was now finding it difficult to conduct business in Malawi, such had been the campaign of vilification conducted against her and Dr Banda since he had died.

As an example she says she was prevented from selling her own plots of land by ministers who said she was grabbing government property and trying to sell it.

She also rejected suggestions that anything she may have acquired from Dr Banda was stolen by him.
"He made his own money when he was overseas. He was not a person who would grab any other man's money," she said.
And if as people alleged he had been a dictator it was only "by the will of the people", she said.

Malawi Art and Craft