As people in Malawi pay last respect to their departed leader, Professor Ngwazi Bingu wa Mutharika, the country is awash with vehicles bearing new number plates- SF.
All voices understand that the SF number plates are just temporal and specifically for the period Malawi is managing the funeral of the late state president.
Printed in white but labeled on a black plate, SF is standing for State Funeral (S=State and F= Funeral), and the vehicles are the ones that are drafted in the funeral programme.
“It dignifies the funeral programme, and the vehicles can easily be identified, which simplifies their movements at the sametime regulated from possible abuses,” observed one commentator.
He added that special number plates are usually spotted during particular occasions like when the country is hosting a foreign leader, international summits or during independence celebrations but are not on a black plate.
A driver using an SF number-plated vehicle disclosed that it is at the PVHO where the plates are being fixed.
Since the days of the first Malawi leader, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, PVHO offices which are scattered countrywide have being in the fore for hiring out of government plants and vehicles in addition to servicing the government vehicles.
The SF number plated-vehicles have been spotted from Saturday April 14, the day the remains of Mutharika were flown in Malawi.
A snap survey show that most of the vehicles are pooled from the PVHO itself, government ministries and departments, statutory corporations, local councils, among other organizations and firms.
Thousands and thousands of people joined newly sworn in Malawi president Joyce Banda in mourning Mutharika whose body was brought in by South African military aircraft saturday afternoon.
The Malawi defense forces mounted a guard of honor for the former president and commander in-chief, and sounded a 21-gun salute.
Head of the Catholic church Bishop Joseph Zuza offered prayers at the airport.
Viewing started saturday at the new state house, led by President Joyce Banda, her vice Khumbo Kachali, some cabinet ministers and members of the diplomatic mission, family members, close friends and others.
The viewing for the classified group continued at the state house on Sunday but for the general public it will be at the new parliament building on Monday and Tuesday.
On Wednesday the body will be flown to Mzuzu state lodge for public viewing in the country’s northern region.
Thursday April 19 is the day the body of the late president will be flown to Blantyre where people in the southern and eastern regions will be viewing up until saturday April 21 at the Sanjika palace.
On Sunday April 22, the body will be taken to Ndata farm for people living in Thyolo and surrounding areas to partake in the viewing.
Burial is Monday April 23 2012 but a 30-day mourning period that is accompanied by flying of the national flag at half mast with radios playing solemn music was declared from April 7 2012 when it was made public that President Bingu wa Mutharika, 78 is no more.
Chairperson of the funeral programme committee disclosed that at least 25 million liters of fuel have been programmed for the state funeral, five million of which is a donation from the Zambian government.