Peter Mutharika dishes K2m to Muslim Association members

By Evelyn Chibwe, Nyasa Times 

The Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) executive members and trustees on Thursday evening received K50, 000 each from Professor Peter Mutharika for what is seen to be lobbying the Muslim community to support his 2014 presidential bid, Nyasa Times can reveal.

There were over 30 members, which translates to about K2 million that was disbursed.

Professor Mutharika is president Bingu wa Mutharika’s young brother who was recently endorsed as the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate in the 2014 general elections.

According to a highly-placed informant, who is one of the members that were ‘bribed’ and a respectable Sheikh, initially MAM secretary general and former presidential advisor on Islamic Affairs, Salmin Omar Idrus had called for an emergency executive committee meeting that took place at Cold Storage premises in Blantyre.

Prof Peter Mutharika: Campaiging

Cold Storage, a meat product outlet, is owned by Sidik Mia, who is MAM Board of Trustees vice chairman and transport and public infrastructure minister. He is also treasurer general for the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

According to the Sheikh, who preferred anonymity, the members were “ambushed” as they were only told that it would be an emergency meeting without giving them the agenda.

“After the meeting at the Cold Storage, we were invited to break our fasting at Mia’s residence at Kabula. We were surprised that upon arrival there, we found Professor Peter Mutharika at the lounge and we were advised by Mia that he wanted to interact with us,” said the Sheikh, who expressed fears that even if it were a plot to kill them, there would be no MAM executive committee today.

One member, Bitton Ajawa, walked out of Mia’s house in protest against the encounter with Professor Mutharika.

During the ‘interaction’ with Professor Mutharika, chairman of the Muslim Association of Malawi, Sheikh Idrisa Muhammad told the DPP presidential candidate that the association does not receive the required attention from government and that as such it was difficult to support the professor’s candidature.

He said MAM has strong grassroots structures that would be instrumental in supporting the professor’s 2014 presidential bid and he requested government, through the Peter Mutharika, that government should assist MAM and its humanitarian establishments, such as schools and hospitals, among others.

In his response, Professor Peter Mutharika who is Education Minister,  said he had taken note of the Sheikh’s concerns and that when he returns to ‘government’, they would seriously look into them.

He later announced that he had a “small gift” for all the members of K50, 000 each.

Meanwhile, some members of the Muslim community have expressed concern at the development. They said they are disappointed by Sheikh Idrisa Muhammad and his secretary general for “accepting bribes”, saying when the Muslims elected Sheikh Muhammad as MAM chairman, they had much trust that he is incorruptible.

“However, what Sheikh Muhammad, Sidik Mia, Salmin Omar and the DPP should know is that Muslims are as discontented as every Malawian over the rapid deterioration of the social, economic and political situation in the country. We would not be easily convinced to support Peter’s candidature,” said Afiki Jannah, a Mangochi-based Muslim.

The new MAM executive committee was elected on April 31, 2011. Sheikh Muhammad succeeded Sheikh Yusuf Kanyamula, who was largely suspected to be in closer ties with president Mutharika and his DPP.

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