Malawians want Mutharika to show up

Some concerned Malawians want to lobby lawmakers to bring a motion in parliament demanding that President Bingu wa Mutharika appear in public or make a video link speech to assure Malawians that he is fit and well.

If the president does not return this weekend from Hong Kong, a group of MPs led by UDF’s Ibrahim Matola was to quiz deputy minister in the office the president Nicholas Dausi that the Head of State should show up.

Mutharika, 78, had stopped off in Hong Kong on way back from Commonwealth conference last month.

Mutharika: Says he is on leave

He was forced on Monday to speak on telephone to a journalist at a news conference to rebut rumours that he had died or was gravely ill. But his phone talk has been questioned by many including University of Malawi associate law professor Edge Kanyongolo.

Kanyongolo said the President’s speaking to a journalist on a phone to confirm he is alive “is very strange and unprecedented.”

The law expert said the President would do good to address Malawians “through TV or just cut the holiday short.”

The matter has also been subject of hot debate by opinion movers and shakers on makers on Nyasanet listerserv discussion forum and social networking sites.

A Malawian tweeted that he would only be pleased to see and hear the president on television.

“Speaking to a journalist on phone is not an issue at stake; the issue is that he has taken holiday without permission from the electorate. There was no communication that he was going on leave. Mutharika is paid by Malawians, he is accountable to Malawians, so he cannot go on holiday without permission,” commented one angry Malawian.

On Nyasanet, some commentators doubted the credibility that it was Mutharika who spoke to journalist Dickson Kashoti, saying it was another man “who was asked to do an impression of Bingu to dupe the unsuspecting Malawians. Perhaps only by video conference can these rumours go.”

But Kashoti said the person who was speaking was the President of Malawi.

Presidential spokesman Hetherwick Ntaba who has been hiding the exact location of Mutharika dismissed what he called “dictatorship” demands to have the President speak on video link or television.

“Let these critics know that just as they cannot take any degree of dictatorship from the government, government cannot also buy any dictatorship tendencies from its critics,” said Ntaba who fuelled speculations of Mutharika’s death because of keeping information close to his chest.

However, another commentator on Nyasanet said he strongly believes that Mutharika is not worn out.

“I don’t think our President is in a state people have been speculating here on the net. No country would have allowed hiding any information regarding the President’s health. I don’t really know why people want Bingu to come home instead of allowing our leader to take some rest.

“For him to be effective in decision making, as a person like yourself and myself, he needs a relaxed mind. Rest is very important. Work will always be there even if one collapses in an office due to stress and tension; a replacement for the position is made without delay. Unfortunately, no one will replace the life gone.”

He argued that the President deserves and require some rest, mainly at a time when Malawi is facing its worse economic problems due to fuel, forex and medication shortages.

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