Malawi opposition leaders on Thursday pulled from one direction to address a news conference in Lilongwe are demanding an investigation into what they call ‘suspicious’ deaths of Justice Maxon Mbendera and Justice George Bakuwa.
Mbendera, Chairperson of Malawi Electoral Commission at the time of his death, died on 18 August 2016 after collapsing during a meeting in Lilongwe while Justice Bakuwa died on 18 November 2016, on a tour of duty in Zambia, barely two weeks after taking his oath of office. He was working on the controversial maize purchase deal in Zambia for f State-produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) where he previously served as company secretary.
“Credibility of our national institutions for the rule of law, transparency and accountability has been put into question. Suspicious deaths of Justice Mbendera and Justice Bakuwa have not been put under investigation,” said Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president and Leader of Opposition Lazarus Chakwera says
People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) president Mark Katsonga added: “All of us stood and we were voted for. It is an insult that the whole government machinery should come from tribe. Any suspicious death must be investigated. We need Mbendera’s death to be thoroughly investigated. ”
Call for Bakuwa’s death probe are not new. Following allegations of corrupt elements in the ‘maizegate’ leaders of the country’s key CSOs, including Public Affairs Committee (PAC), Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen), Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) and Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec), sounded the fist appeal for Bakuwa’s death to be investigated.
Others who demanded for the prove were Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Youth and Society (YAS) and Citizen Alliance.
There has been speculation that Bakuwa may have been poisoned after he expressed reservation on the ‘cashgate’ style of corruption in the procurement saga.
He died after his sugar level rose too high, similar to the death of Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson Justice Maxon Mbendera.
Like the CSO’s the opposition say government should have released details on the circumstances that led to Bakuwa’s death and the treatment provided to him.
They argue that government did not bother to disclose any details to dispel the mystery over Bakuwa’s death.
However, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu has said the opposition should not play politics with the death of the two judges.
Tembenu downplayes speculations that the sudden death Mbendera, was “state-sponsored” murder, saying the former judge had health problem before his demise.
A pathologist at the College of Medicine conducted the autoposy.
It is said late Mbendera before his passing was profusely sweating, had nausea and vomiting, an irregular and slow heartbeat.
He was served with a glass of water and a cup of coffee whilst waiting for the planned meeting before his sudden death.
But Tembenu disclosed that Mbendera had a sugar problem, which was high according to his family, before he left for Lilongwe where he died suddenly.
The Justice Minister called the allegations of foul play as “absurd.”
Mbendera was the first MEC chairperson to handle tripartite elections on May 20 2014.
He will be remembered for publicly and uncharacteristically weeping on May 30 2014 as he announced final results of the May 201 2014 Tripartite Elections at the National Tally Centre in Blantyre.
His gesture shocked many Malawians, especially coming against a background of reports of disagreements among MEC commissioners on results
He confessed that he had an emotional attack after realizing that he was about to make a declaration that would spark wild celebrations for the winning party when one family elsewhere was mourning.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :