President Peter Mutharika has hit back at opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera for seeking to “score cheap political gains” over the crisis of killings and abductions of persons with albinism in the country.
Chakwera, who recently resigned as Leader of Opposition in Parliament to pave the way for his presidential candidature, told reporters in Lilongwe that Mutharika has Executive powers to end this barbaric practice but is “sleeping on the job and being a coward”.
But in a statement released by State House press secretary Mgeme Kalilani, President Mutharika quashed Chakwera’s claims, saying he is “saddened” that instead of joining forces with government, traditional leaders, the clergy and communities to stop the crimes being perpetrated against people with albinism, some political leaders have chosen to use the senseless attacks and murders of people with albinism to score cheap political gains.
“It is immoral for any political leader to sink so low and use the suffering of our brothers and sisters with albinism for political gain,” reads the statement.
The President is calling upon all political leaders to desist forthwith from politicising killings of people with albinism.
“People with albinism should also watch out for power hungry politicians that are bent on using their plight for political gains,” reads in part the statement.
The President is also appealing to all investigating agencies and the courts to “listen to the cries of Malawians “ and ensure that all those arrested in connection with the murders or abductions of people with albinism are taken to court expeditiously and that those found guilty are handed sentences befitting the gravity of the offence.
Mutharika also reiterated that government is doing all it can within its means to ensure that persons with albinism are safe in this country by among other things increasing police presence in areas where people with albinism stay across the country and also by providing housing to people with albinism upon assessment of their needs.
But Chakwera said it is sad that the killings are continuing despite government launching the National Action Plan (NAP) last year to protect those living with albinism.
Said the MCP leader: “You need to know that whoever is in the syndicate that is buying the body parts of people with albinism is deemed so powerful that the police feel restrained from arresting them; the buyers are deemed so powerful that the murderers feel motivated to continue killing for them; the buyers are deemed so powerful that the President continues to resist funding the National Action Plan to stop these murders; the buyers are so powerful that the President continues to resist using his constitutional power as Commander in Chief to order the police to bring them to justice.”
He continued: “I only have three words for the President; Do your job! Stop being a coward and do your job. If you do not end these murders and abductions, you will leave a legacy that will haunt you for the rest of your life.”
Chakwera dared that once voted into power, he will end the abductions and killings within a month.
Commenting on the development, governance commentator and rights defender Makhumbo Munthali told Nyasa Times that it is the duty of the State to protect promote and fulfil rights, including that of life of persons with albinism.
“The right to life of persons with albinism continues to be violated under the watch of the State and it is now becoming clear with the continue killings of persons with albinism that President Peter Mutharika’s regime has failed to protect right to life of persons with albinism,” said Munthali.
He said despite that Mutharika has on several occasions condemned the atrocities against people with albinism, urging police to catch the perpetrators and let them rot in jail; the public is now “tired being greeted with mere rhetoric and press statements from State agencies and Mutharika himself on the matter.”
The rights defender concurred with Chakwera that “it’s time for action.”
He said: “Persons with albinism cannot be treated as aliens in their own country. It’s high time Mutharika and State agencies walked the talk on the issue.”
Since 2014, an unprecedented wave of abductions and killings of people with albinism have occurred in the country up to 152, including 25 murders and more than 10 people missing, according to Association of People with Albinism (Apam).
People with albinism are targeted for their body parts in the belief that they contain magical powers. The current population of people with albinism in Malawi is estimated at around 10 000.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :