, BLANTYRE, Malawi, Jun 16 – Malawian President Joyce Banda has reiterated her call for probe to be conducted into circumstances surrounding the death of former president Bingu wa Mutharika on April 5 following a heart failure, amid resistance from the deceased family.
President Banda announced on May 31 that she had instituted a commission of enquiry to investigate circumstances surrounding the death of the former president, but Mutharika’s family dismissed Mrs. Banda’s move as “Satanic machinations aimed at gaining political mileage.”
Mutharika’s family said in the statement that they “are not party to President Banda’s investigations” because “they know what led to Mutharika’s death” and that “there was no need to institute a commission of enquiry.”
But speaking to journalists, President Banda said Mutharika was president to all Malawians, hence there was need for the cause of his death to be known and made public to all Malawians.
“What we need to know is whether the President was accorded all the necessary medical support that he required on that day and if he was not, why?” said Banda, adding, “We would like to know whether there is anything we could have done but did not do to save his life. “We also need to know when exactly President Mutharika died because there are contradicting reports that he died on April 5, while some reports say he died on April 6 and yet other reports say he died on April 7,” she claimed.
Banda said it was also intriguing to note that when Mutharika collapsed on April 5, by April 6 the whole world, except Malawi, was announcing that he had died.
“The question we would want answered is: why was there that gap? ” said President Banda. She said Malawi and the world at large would also wish to know the issues surrounding the night of April 6 where six cabinet ministers now known in the media as “the midnight six” convened a press conference at around midnight declaring Banda illegible for taking over the country’s presidency.
President Banda’s insistence on the need for Mutharika’s death probe concurs with Malawi veteran journalist and BBC correspondent Raphael Tenthani’s observation in the local Sunday Times of June 8 where he justified the need for an enquiry into Mutharika’s death.
Tenthani said once Mutharika rose to the country’s presidency on May 21 in 2004 he ceased to belong to his family alone but to all Malawians as well from whom he used to draw his salary and all. Wrote Tenthani in his column Mucracking on Sunday: “If results of the enquiry unearth any slippages in how presidents must be handled it might not personally help Bingu but it will be useful with how the nation handles its future presidents. “Look, do we not need answers as to how Bingu had to be transported to the hospital in an ordinary vehicle in his hour of need when an ambulance always made part of his kilo-meter long convoy?”
The BBC correspondent wondered in his article, “How come President Mutharika have to battle for oxygen valves in the ‘ general’ intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) on that fateful day when the country’s first President Hastings Kamuzu Banda had maintained VVIP wings in the country’s major hospitals including KCH?” President Banda’s commission of enquiry on Mutharika’s death is yet to release a report on its findings