President Peter Mutharika has accused former first lady Callista Mutharika, who is the President’s sister- in-law, of lacking the “moral authority” for attacking him during United Transformation Movement (UTM) rallies, but she has stuck to her ground.
Mutharika said on Saturday on arrival in Mzuzu that Bingu wa Mutharika’s widow Callista whom she called by her maiden name of Chapola not that of Mutharika, has been attacking him during UTM rallies together with State vice-president Saulos Chilima, the movement’s secretary general Patricia Kaliati and national chairperson Noel Masangwi.
The President said he had heard that during the launch of UTM at Njamba in Blantyre on July 29 2018, Callista called him mtchona [someone who has lived abroad for a long time] and also that she uttered disparaging remarks against his wife, First Lady Gertrude Mutharika.
The visibly angry Mutharika said Callista does not have any moral standing—in relation to how she behaved during Bingu’s sudden illness, and subsequent death—to make such utterances.
“I want to warn Callista Chapola [Mutharika]. She is not a person who has any moral authority.
“I want to tell you what happened. On April 5th 2012 I received a telephone call from Mr [Edward] Sawerengera from 10 o’clock, saying the President [Bingu wa Mutharika] had collapsed and was taken to Kamuzu Central Hospital.
“I arrived at Kamuzu Central Hospital by 10:15 [am], at 10:20 [am] the [then] Chief Secretary [Bright] Msaka arrived at the hospital; at 10:25 [Bintony ] Kutsaila arrived at the hospital as former director of Intelligence, at 10:30: Mr [Peter] Mukhitho arrived at the hospital.
“By 11am all the children and grandchildren had arrived at the hospital. Callista arrived at the hospital at 4:30pm. For six hours she was busy collecting materials from State House to her friend in Area 10 and that’s the truth, that’s the kind of woman she is,” said Mutharika.
“She is not a woman who deserves any kind of respect,” said Mutharika about his in-law.
But Callista said on Sunday that she had called on Mutharika not to contest again for presidency in 2019, in preference to Chilima, to put family aside and act in the national interest, insisting that “mtchona nndi mtchona basi.”
Callista shared a link of a video (posted below) of how President Mutharika spokes at Bingu’s funeral of her, saying that was a true account not the emotional political banter he made in Mzuzu.
On the claims made by Mutharika in relation to Bingu’s death, the former first lady said she could not comment as she referred to the Commission of Inquiry report that probed the circumstances around the controversial leader’s death on 05 April 2012, including the medical attention he received.
“I have no respect for people who lie. For all I know, the late Bingu was a very happy man,” said Callista.
The commission found that Bingu wa Mutharika collapsed at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe after he suffered cardiac arrest .
He had earlier met former legislator Agnes Penemulungu and the inquiry Commission heard that barely 10 minutes into the meeting (about 11:21am), Penemulungu noticed that the President was motionless.
A personal aide-de-camp was called, the Personal Physician was also called, the President was carried to his office, first aid administered, an ambulance called, and then he was rushed to the hospital.
“According to the testimony, the drive took approximately 15 to 20 min”.
The Malawi High Commission in South Africa ordered an air ambulance from Netcare International Rescue, which required a letter of guarantee to secure it. The Malawi government’s April 5 letter to Netcare gave Mutharika’s name as Daniel Phiri as he was said to have already died.
When the Netcare air ambulance landed in Lilongwe at 7pm, its medical team reportedly refused to allow the president’s corpse on board, saying they did not have clearance to carry a dead body to South Africa.
At 8pm – about seven hours after Bingu wa Mutharika’s death – Malawi state media MBC reported that the president was ill and was being flown to South Africa for medical treatment.
Bingu was then taken by ambulance to the casualty wing of 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria, where it took less than 15 minutes for South African military doctors to confirm he was dead.
At 8am on April 7 – nearly 48 hours after Mutharika died – the Malawian government announced his death.