Mutharika family ‘frees’ Callista: Bag of US$ opened

The family of former Malawi President late Bingu wa Mutharika Saturday June 2, ‘let go’ the former First Lady Callista Mutharika at a brief ‘kusudzula’ ceremony held at Ndata Farm in the late Head of State’s home district of Thyolo.

The ceremony held almost 58 days after the death of Bingu was, however, followed a wave of drama and exchange of bitter words between Callista and late Mutharika’s closer relatives, during a meeting which was initially meant to discuss other issues rather than Callista’s future with the family.

But family spokesperson Charles Namondwe refused to comment on the meeting.

Callista: Got the dollars

Sources closer to the family revealed that the former president’s brother Peter took the centre stage in the feud and forced the family to let Callista free, after the former First Lady revealed that he was
behind the New State House looting soon after his brother’s death.

“During the meeting Callista told the family members that Peter was keeping some of her things. At first Peter denied the accusations but after an exchange of bitter words and intervention from Duwa (Bingu’s last born daughter), Peter accepted that he was indeed keeping some bags,” said one of the sources who attended the meeting.

The source said initially Peter told the gathering that he will bring the bags later but other family members objected and forced him to bring the bags to Ndata Farm the same Saturday.

“People were sent to Peter’s Blantyre residence where they came back with several bags. Upon opening them they realised that the bags were starched with cash amounting to about US$500,000 (almost MK125 million),” said a source.

This was when Callista told the people that it was actually Peter who had sent people to Lilongwe’s New State House soon after Bingu’s death to loot the residence and took away the cash.

“This is my late husband’s money,” Callista is quoted to have stormed in the meeting.

The source further said Callista’s revelation did not go down well with Peter who immediately demanded that the woman should no longer be part of the Mutharika family and thereafter the family agreed to let her go in what is called ‘kusudzula’ in vernacular.

This means that Callista is free to marry again if she so wishes.

As a way of returning Duwa’s favour Callista thereafter agreed to part with almost half the money and gave it to her step daughter.

Soon after Bingu’s death Nyasa Times carried a story which revealed that the Malawi Police stopped some members of late Mutharika’s as they were attempting to loot the New State House of money and other valuables which they claim belonged to their deceased relation.

The law enforcers were shocked to find out that among the valuables were ‘shocking’ stashes of money in both the local kwacha currency and US dollars packed in bags and cartons ready to be taken out of the palace.

By the time of the report it was not yet established how much money was involved and Malawi Police has not come in the open to tell the nation of the looting and how much money was found.

During the funeral of Bingu, President Joyce Banda reminded Peter of the big responsibility he had inherited to look after the family.

“Suddenly you have become the patriarch of the family. We ask you to take care of the former First Lady Madam Callista and the children,” she said.

And Peter publicly assured his widowed in-law that she will never walk alone as he will be there for her.

“You will never walk alone, I can assure you that,” he declared.

Late Mutharika married Callista in 2010 after he lost his Zimbabwean first wife, Ethel, to cancer in 2007.

Callista was one of the cabinet ministers in Mutharika’s first administration and was also a Member of Parliament in Zomba.

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