Former President Arthur Peter Mutharika
* He accuses Chakwera of trying “to divert public opinion from corruption scandals, the rising cost of living, total loss of economic direction and complete failure of leadership
* I am fully aware that Chakwera’s government is conspiring day and night to cook up charges that should destroy my name for reasons best known to them
By Duncan Mlanjira
Former President Arthur Peter Mutharika (APM) has responded to the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to investigate him together with Dr. Hetherwick Ntaba — who were implicated in the brutal murder brutal murder of person living with albinism, MacDonald Masambuka in 2018.
In his statement of response, APM is accusing President Lazarus Chakwera’s government of “drumming up the same malicious propaganda” which was being propagated by the opposition prior to the 2019 tripartite elections.
He accuses Chakwera of trying “to divert public opinion from corruption scandals, the rising cost of living, total loss of economic direction and complete failure of leadership”.
“I am fully aware that Chakwera’s government is conspiring day and night to cook up charges that should destroy my name for reasons best known to them,” he said.
APM emphasized that after the death of Masambuka, he set up a Presidential Task Force on issues to do with killings of people living with albinism, which was headed by Dr. Ntaba — then as his Chief Advisor on Domestic Affairs.
Others included senior government officials from relevant Ministries like Justice; Gender & Persons with Disabilities; Health; traditional healers association, the Clergy, the Police and others, who worked tirelessly to come up with measures on protecting people living with albinism as well as addressing their welfare needs”.
“It is unfortunate that Dr Ntaba was targeted for simply accepting to head and direct the work of the Task Force,” he said, adding that he then went on to appoint a Commission of Inquiry to carry out an independent investigation.
“The Commission of Inquiry was appointed by me with effect from 5th March 2019 in exercise of powers conferred upon me by Section 89 (1 (g) of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi, as read with Section 2(1) of the Commissions of Inquiry Act (Chapter 18:01 of the Laws of Malawi) to investigate the spate of attacks, abductions and killings of persons with albinism.
“The Commission was expected to complete the work and submit a written report to His Excellency the President by 30th April 2019. However, the report was not submitted as expected due to unforeseen circumstances. The work of the Commission was resumed in May, 2020 and the final report was submitted in June, 2020.”
APM then says the Commission of Inquiry completed its work just prior to his leaving office, which was presented to Chakwera “but for some reason, he has hitherto been unwilling to release the Report”.
“I would like to place it on record that the inquiry was conducted as a response to a public emergency, namely, the killings of people with albinism. It therefore serves no public interest for the President to hide the contents of that report from the public whose right it is to know its contents.
“But it seems characteristic of the current Presidency to keep the masses guessing and in the dark regarding matters of public interest.”
He thus asks Chakwera to release the contents of the Report that was completed by the Commission of Inquiry, saying he has a copy but, “out of respect for the Presidency, I leave it to him to release it”.
“But if he does not, then I will be compelled to make available to the public. That Report contains the truth of the matter and should be available for the public to know the truth.
“It will also form a better basis for an investigation which the Director of Public Prosecutions has called for. And because we know the truth as to why the call for the investigation has resurfaced, we would welcome an open and thorough investigation that covers the conduct of both the prosecution and defence lawyers; the prisoners who made these false statements in Court as well as the politicians who engineered these lies about my alleged involvement and that of Dr Ntaba.”
He explained that what he considered as “propaganda was created by political forces who paid prisoners to start making ridiculous allegations that I was involved in selling bones of people with albinism”.
“Hitherto, those rumour mongers have not been taken to task and some of them are part of [Chakwera’s] Government. I totally reject these allegations and challenge Government to release the Report and proceed with its investigations. It is a purely false, malicious and evil propaganda.
“It is shocking that the manner in which Government wants to pursue this matter carries with it the same pre-2020 propaganda that was intended to discredit my name using the killings of people with albinism.
“At that time, the political goal of this propaganda by the opposition was to destroy the name of Arthur Peter Mutharika as we moved towards the 2019 Elections.”
APM highlights the principles applied by the Commission of Enquiry, which “acted in accordance with the Constitutional principles and the provisions of the Commissions of Inquiry Act (Cap 18:01) and, subject thereto, had the power to consider, determine and inquire into all aspects related to the attacks, abductions and killings of persons with albinism”.
In the course of the inquiry, the Commission was guided by, but not limited to, the following Terms of Reference:
a) investigate, make findings and recommendations on any matter incidental to and connected with the attacks, abduction and killings of persons with albinism;
b) interrogate the root causes of the violations against persons with albinism, including the beliefs and superstitions surrounding the body parts of persons with albinism;
c) investigate the status the of investigations and prosecutions of outstanding cases on violations of rights of persons with albinism; including the role and effectiveness of various stakeholders such as the Malawi Police Service and the Judiciary in addressing the violations;
d) investigate the possible perpetrators responsible for the marketing of the body parts of persons with albinisms;
e) investigate how other countries, including Tanzania, have managed and addressed violations against persons with albinisms;
f) produce a written report on the findings with recommendations to Government on the course of action to be taken on the matter; and
g) submit the report to His Excellency the President of the Republic of Malawi.
“As is the practice, a Commission of Inquiry has the duty to make full, faithful and impartial inquiry into the matters specified in the law that established the Commission.”
He reiterated that the Commission of Inquiry was headed by Justice of Appeal Justice Robert Reidson Chinangwa, SC, (Rtd); with other members as the Right Reverend Dr. Timothy P.K. Nyasulu; Abigail Dzimadzi; Grace E. Massah; Paramount Chief Kawinga; Bishop George Jobe; Lexa H. Chalera (PPM) DCP (Rtd) and Counsel Brenda V. Kapenda as secretary.
APM concludes by challenging Chakwera “to focus on decisively acting on their corruption scandals, the current economic crisis and begin to provide leadership to save Malawians who are suffering from the rising cost of living instead of wasting time laboring to destroy my name and reputation”.
“I proudly served the people of Malawi, including people with albinism, and I shall always remain a man who seeks love, peace and unity among all Malawians.”
Last week, the case of Masambuka resurfaced when the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Steven Kayuni indicated that he was considering going after high profile people implicated in the murder of the 22-year-old man living with albinism from Machinga, who was murdered gruesomely for his body tissues.
The police then arrested 21 people, who include a Catholic priest, a police officer and a health worker and during trial, some of the convicts named APM and Ntaba as the ones who sent them to commit the crime.
However, despite the stunning revelation, the police have not acted until Justice Dorothy NyaKaunda Kamanga passed her judgment on Monday last week, who had earlier wondered why Mutharika and Ntaba continued enjoying freedom despite being mentioned during the hearing of the case.
This prompted Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Youth and Society (YAS) to challenge law enforcers to rise to the occasion and effect arrests on APM and Dr. Ntaba for being implicated in the brutal murder in 2018.
CHRR Executive Director Michael Kaiyatsa expressed dismay with the reluctance of the law enforcement agencies to arrest the two, saying “the allegations against these two are serious and it’s only right that they should be given the opportunity to have their names cleared through a judicial process”.
On the other hand, YAS Executive Director Charles Kajoloweka said his organization expected the DPP to revisit the case and ensure that all those implicated are brought to book, while emphasizing that there should be no selective justice.
“They must clear themselves or the law must catch up with them because if we do not do so, it will be seen as if there are other people that are above the law or they are getting preferential treatment.
“There should be no preferential treatment of anyone in these serious criminal cases. Therefore, justice must be served and that those implicated including the former President and the Presidential Advisor then, Dr. Ntaba, must be held accountable because that is what is expected,” he had said.