President Peter Mutharika on Thursday arrived from the high-level Comesa summit but private media journalists were not allowed to ask questions as they were geared to grill him on what civil society organisations (CSOs) are demanding that Mutharika, his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Pioneer Investments (PI) Limited should refund to government money they allegedly fraudulently acquired from the Malawi Police Service (MPS) food rations deal.
Instead, a state-controlled Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) reporter with strong links to the ruling party, Greyson Chapita monopolized and asked all questions to the President soon after he landed at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe.
Most of the questions were related to his trip in Lusaka, Zambia and one question was about his birthday on Wednesday when he turned 78.
Security detail of the President, under instructions, pushed away the journalists from the private media and ensured that the reporters were away from the microphone.
As he spoke, a two day deadline set by Youth and Society organization for DPP to refund the K145 million was elapsing whilst another five day ultimatum set by Human Rights Defenders Coalition for the President to give back the money to government coffers had just started.
The two civil rights organisations want the DPP and Mutharika to give back the money to the government after an anti-graft busting body report said that the K145 million “gift” which the president received from Pioneer Investment’s business tycoon Zameer Karim were proceeds from a K1.7 billion crime in what has now become ‘policegate’ involving Karim and some top police officers.
Mutharika said an integrated youth approach in all Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) countries is vital for addressing common challenges that youths face in the region.
“The most important thing was the youth such that I made a key note address and we have agreed that we need to have a program of integration in all the 21 countries in the region,” he said.
Mutharika’s keynote address focused on digital economy and integrating the youths in financial management and how the two can help in eradicating poverty in the region.
As such, the Malawi President said he has invited all member states in the region from the Ministries of Education as well as Youth to come to Malawi so that a program for the whole region can be drawn.
Mutharika has since described summit as a success.
The President briefly addressed the women that braved the chilly weather to thank them for turning up in large numbers to welcome him as well as apologise for his failure to leave on Monday which made the women wait for hours to see him off in vain.