Necton Mhura omitted from Malawi treason case

Former Deputy Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) Necton Mhura can now breathe a sigh of relief as his name has been removed among the dozen people charged with treason over an alleged coup plot in the aftermath of the death of former president Bingu WA Mutharika.

During the presentation of the defence lawyers on the views of Judge Ivy Kamanga to step aside  from the case, it  transpired that Mhura’s name has not been on the charge sheet.

“It was then that we asked the court that Mr. Mhura should no longer be required to be coming to court because as it appears, he has no any case to answer,” said lawyer Kalekeni Kaphale, adding that the court agreed to the notion.

However, Kaphale said when they asked the court to lift all the bail conditions for the former government top official, the court despite agreeing with the defence prayer, advised that they lodge their written submission by Friday.

“We feel that our client is on bail on a case that does not exist to him as he is not part of the accused persons,” said Kaphale.

Kaphale: Great relief on Mhura
Kaphale: Great relief on Mhura

He said the ruling on the issue will be delivered next week.

The other defendants in the case  include Bingu’s brother Professor Peter Mutharika, former Chief Secretary to the Government, Bright Msaka, former Economic Planning and Development Minister Goodall Gondwe, were fingered in a report into Mutharika’s death as having played one role or another in plotting to upstage the then Vice-President Joyce Banda from assuming power as stipulated in the Constitution.

Soon after Mutharika, 78, suddenly collapsed in his office and subsequently died on the way to Lilongwe’s Kamuzu Central Hospital from cardiac arrest complications on 5 April last year, cabinet ministers and senior government officials held a number of secret meetings aimed at preventing Banda from assuming power, according to the Commission of Inquiry headed by retired Supreme Court judge, Justice Elton Singini.

Mutharika and Banda had fallen out as her boss preferred his younger brother, Peter, to take over from him when he retired in 2014.

Banda, who was next in the succession line, resisted the anointment of Peter, the 72-year-old Washington State University constitutional law professor, and she was subsequently expelled from the then ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

She subsequently founded her own People’s Party (PP).

According to the report, Mutharika, Msaka and Gondwe had suggested to Army Commander General Henry Odillo that the army ‘just take over’. But Odillo told the Commission ‘he was uncomfortable with the suggestion for it was not provided for in the Constitution’.

As the Mutharika administration haggled over what to do, it delayed the confirmation  of the President’s death and instead sent his dead body to South Africa for ‘further treatment’, according to former Information Minister Patricia Kaliati’s 6 April midnight press conference.

The administration grudgingly confirmed Mutharika’s death on 7 April 2012 and Banda was quickly sworn in on the same day.

President Banda immediately set the commission to look into her predecessor’s death. The Singini Commission presented its report to the President on 6 March, 2013. State House made it public the following day and the wave of arrests followed.

Other former officials facing the treason charges  include  Kaliati, former Local Government Minister Henry Mussa, former Youth Minister Symon Vuwa Kaunda, former Health Minister Jean Kalirani, former Presidential Affairs Minister Nicholas Dausi, former deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa and former Presidential Guard Commander Duncan Mwapasa.

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