Oct 19, 2017 Last Updated 2:12 PM, Oct 18, 2017

President Mutharika has succumbed to pressure from the Civil Society and communities of Mulanje, Phalombe, Chiradzulu and Nsanje, who have been expressing concern over Mutharika’s silence on the alleged blood sucking attacks.

The President intends to visit the affected communities from Friday this week.

In a statement released by the Presidential Press Secretary Mgeme Kalirani, President Mutharika requests that the general public remain calm, as the government gets to the bottom of the matter.

At least seven people have been killed and others injured in attacks by villagers on persons they suspect of being or colluding with what they term ‘’blood suckers’’.

Mulanje District Hospital recently suspended its outreach clinics and operations of its ambulance service, as members of the community attacked the ambulance suspecting that it carried ‘’blood suckers’’.

The attacks are also affecting the Tourism and Medical industry as well as other social service with the latest reports indicating that three international NGOs have withdrawn their projects in Nsanje.

A report released on October 6th by the UN Department of Safety and Security indicates that it is alleged that these rumours originated from the neighbouring Mozambique, and spread across the borders to Mulanje and Phalombe.

Pressure is beginning to build for the government of Malawi to come out clearly on the whereabouts of President Peter Mutharika.

Mutharika left the country on September 15th to attend the 72nd United Nations General Assembly.

The UNGA conference started on September 19th to 22nd in New York.

Some world leaders, like President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari, have returned to their respective countries.

George Mnesa, leader of the Malawi Forum for Unity and Development- MAFUNDE, is of the view that Malawians should always be informed about the whereabouts of the president, regardless of whether he is conducting government or private business.

“The government is being very arrogant by not letting people know because this is not the first time that we have such a scenario.

Most leader that were there have returned to their countries, there is nothing wrong in coming clean and telling the people that he is on holiday,” Mnesa added.

In Mnesa’s view, silence brews speculation, so there is a need for government to inform the people of the president’s whereabouts.

Also weighing in his views, Executive Director of the Youth and Society Charles Kajoloweka, said people are mostly speculating because there is no transparency.

“If we were able to mobilise ourselves and demand accountability, this would have easily been prevented.

But they are doing this because they know that Malawians will let it go, just like they always do,” Kajoloweka added.

When contacted by Capital FM, minister of Information Nicholas Dausi said he needed more time to consult as he did not want to speculate.

 Last year, a similar situation led to wild speculation over Mutharika’s health, as he stayed away for almost a month.

The government officials also kept Malawians in the dark on what was keeping Mutharika abroad then.

The government is not revealing the amount of money it is expected to spend for the delegates attending the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) later this month.

Similar meetings in the past have been characterised by a large contingent who included party zealots and traditional leaders, a development that led to the abuse of public funds.

The government was also taken to task after some parastatals were forced to fund people attending the UN General Assembly.

Commenting on the issue, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Emmanuel Fabiano reveals that 19 people will attend the meeting, among them three ministers and President Peter Mutharika.

Fabiano added that the delegation includes three cabinet ministers, senior government officials and some members of the media.

Apart from that, there will be no party representatives in the delegation.

In the past years, President Peter Mutharika and his administration have come under pressure and scrutiny over allegations of bloated entourages to the UN General Assembly which is a drain of public funds. 

Mutharika has also been criticised over his prolonged stay in the states after conclusion of the meeting.

The UN general assembly is expected to start on the 19th of this month up to the 25th.

The UNGA one of the six principal organs of the United Nations (UN), the only one in which all member nations have equal representation, and the main deliberative, policy-making and representative organ of the UN.

Malawi President Peter Mutharika says he will act appropriately on any evidence of wrongdoing or an act deserving blame that led to the tragedy at Bingu National Stadium during this year’s Independence Day celebrations.

Mutharika said this on Tuesday in Lilongwe when a task force he instituted to investigate the stampede presented a report on their findings and recommendations.

Eight people died during a stampede at the mega stadium on 6 July.

“We will certainly look at the report. Wherever there is evidence of culpability or wrongdoing, the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General will make appropriate recommendations and action will be taken.

This was not meant to be a witch hunt but we wanted to discover the truth, learn from it and avoid a recurrence of this accident in future. The recommendations put forward look so comprehensive and I will sit down and look at them,” Mutharika said.

He added that it was wise and proper for democratic Malawi to go through the due processes in establishing what really went wrong and offer an explanation to Malawians.

The report, presented by the task force’s chairperson Zanga-Zanga Chikhosi, has faulted a number of areas and players within the organisation of the event.

Chief among these is the main organising committee which has been blamed for poor planning, lack of decision making and their miscalculation in setting 10:00 hours as the time for opening the stadium gates.

The report also notes that the coordination between the main organising committee and various stakeholders like the Police, department of sports and BNS management was very weak and that their operations were characterized by a breakdown of communication.

The operational leadership and event management at BNS has not been spared the blame.

The report says the leadership on the ground failed to effectively coordinate with various players in making overarching and interagency wide decisions on the spot.

“The staff from department of sports, the Police and BNS management team worked in isolation. Each group (only) recognised and utilised its chain of command and worked in its own silo,” read the report in part.

It further states that the police were also at fault because they failed to ensure that people who flooded the gates maintained their queues and continued to walk up to the queuing rails in a single file.

The report goes on to say, “Considering that this was a very important day where multitudes would gather, the Police should have been more vigilant to maintain public order including being able to read all red flags that things were getting out of hand and avoid the eventual use of teargas.”

As part of its recommendations, the task force said government should consider constructing a ring road around the stadium to facilitate easy access and speed up evacuation during emergencies.

It also recommends that entry points into the stadium should be kept clear of immobile crowds.

A legal commentator believes the constitution is clear on the need for the president to appear before parliament if summoned by legislators.

There has been tug of war between the opposition and the government on the matter.

Calls by the opposition for President Peter Mutharika to appear before parliament to give a detailed account on emerging critical issues have always been ignored by the government.

President Mutharika only appears in parliament when he officially opens sessions.

This is contrary to other democracies like South Africa, where Presidents are summoned to appear before parliament to give comprehensive answers on various issues.

Representatives of the government cite a lack of required standing orders as the basis for their justification for the president not to appear before parliament.

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