AFORD questions criteria used to identify German experts to conduct Chilima’s air crash investigation

German-made Dornier aircraft that crashed on June 10

* What are the terms of reference for the investigation and the qualification and expertise of the German experts involved

* Extent of their involvement in the investigation and full details of how the process towards their identification was done

* And whether there was proper vetting on the concerned expertise and their organization, among others

By Duncan Mlanjira

While applauding the government for engaging German experts to conduct the investigations of the air crash that killed Vice-President Saulos Chilima and eight others, Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) question the sincerity of the decision.


At a press briefing in Lilongwe on Thursday, June 20, Minister of Information & Digitalization, Moses Kunkuyu said government is committed to having independent investigators and reports indicate that German experts have since been identified.

In a public statement, AFORD President, Enock Kanzingeni Chihana said the party is delighted of the Government’s announcement on strides taken by government to conduct the plane crash investigations.

“However, we are deeply concerned about the lack of clarity surrounding the investigation into the tragic plane crash,” says Chihana.

“As a Party that stands for justice and fairness, we commend this effort, as that is what we advocated for initially. Nevertheless, there are few areas of concern bordering around transparency that we would require elements of openness.”

AFORD President Enock Chihana

Last week, Chihana wrote a petition to the Secretary General of the United Nations António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres and copied to the  SADC and the African Union (AU) to support in having a proper closure on the plane crash.

Copied to President Lazarus Chakwera; the UN Resident Coordinator in Malawi; Chief Justice Speaker of the National Assembly; AU chairperson & all Heads of State as well as all foreign diplomatic missions, Chihana asked the UN to first declare the plane crash site “as a crime scene, and therefore, protected from contamination through internationally delegated military personnel”.

Secondly, he called on the “SADC, the AU, and international community to do a thorough forensic investigation into the events surrounding the plane crash” and thirdly, he called for “an urgent constitution of an internationally managed process of the Commission of Inquiry that should form part of the information gathering related to Chilima’s travel and other related arrangements”.

Chihana joined the search party on the night of June 10

Thus in today’s public statement, he said AFORD would like the Government to inform the Malawi nation on:

1. Terms of reference for the investigation;

2. The qualification and expertise of the German experts involved and extent of their involvement in the investigation;

3. Provide full details of how the process towards the identification of the ‘German experts’ was done and whether there was proper vetting on the concerned expertise and their organization;

4. Whether there was involvement of the International Civil Aviation

Organization, which is a specialized agency of the United Nations, that coordinates the principles and techniques of international air navigation and fosters the planning and development of international air transport to ensure safe and orderly growth;

5. The measures in place to ensure the independence and impartiality of the investigation; and

6. The Malawi nation to be informed on how the process is being managed, from the coordination of information gathering to the final report submission; and whether there is a Parliamentary committee involvement in the matter.


“We owe it to the memories of the departed and their families to ensure that the truth is uncovered and justice is served,” continues the statement. “We will not tolerate any attempts to obscure the facts or manipulate the investigation for political gain.

“We demand a comprehensive and transparent investigation that leaves no stone unturned and anything less will be a betray of public’s trust.

“We believe the plane crash and the loss of 9 lives, that included the Malawi Vice-President must be regarded as a matter of national interest that even its investigation and process thereof should be handled transparently and fairly.”

Chihana maintained that AFORD will, in the meantime, “continue to present the Malawi nation on the areas of concern with the process, and if need be, based on the Malawi Government interest, openly engage on behalf of Malawians on the investigation processes so that there is public confidence in the outcome, for the sake of peace and tranquility in Malawi”.

He concludes by urging the government to heed the Party’s calls for transparency and clarity in the investigation and will continue to vigilantly monitor the situation and push for justice to be served.

“May the memories of the departed continue to inspire us to fight for the truth,” he said.

At the press briefing, Kunkuyu said the choice of the Germans is that the plane was also made in Germany — so they are the right people to help with the investigations.

“The President has assured them that there will be no hindrance,” he is quoted as saying by the Nation. “They will have access to the site, people, institutions and anything they see necessary in the investigations.”

Asked by the media if there are costs attached, the Minister said the experts did not mention any, but only demanded that they be allowed to conduct their investigation independently.

And when further asked how long it will take them, Kunkuyu said that too, has not been mentioned, but that it will depend on the assessments that the experts will make once they arrive.

The Nation further reported that the Minister also indicated that the number of people coming has also not been established and that the British and American governments have also showed interest to support Malawi in the investigations.

He said the call to help with the investigations has been extended to anyone, adding that if more experts are coming there will be need for collaboration.