Written by RAPHAEL TENTHANI
BLANTYRE--Former Malawi president Bingu wa Mutharika collapsed in his office at the New State House (now renamed Kamuzu Palace) and died minutes later before reaching Kamuzu Central Hospital, a report into his sudden death has revealed.
"Prof. Bingu wa Mutharika collapsed at around 11.10am on April 5, 2012 in his office and died within minutes before reaching Kamuzu Central Hospital," said retired Supreme Court of Appeal judge, Justice Elton Singini - who chaired the Commission of Inquiry - when he presented the commission's findings to Pres. Joyce Banda in the capital, Lilongwe, Wednesday.
Singini said irregular beating of his heart resulted into cardiac arrest that killed the 78-year-old economist-turned-politician.
"He had a history of heart attacks having suffered a minor heart attack in 2009," he said.
Controversy surrounded Mutharika's collapse and eventual death with officials keeping his death a guarded secret until April 7. Although news spread that the President had died, government officials kept denying such stories and instead flew his body to South Africa "for further treatment". When it was officially confirmed that Mutharika had died, three dates of his death were floated - April 5, 2012, then April 7, 2012 and lastly April 6, 2012.
Then Vice-President Joyce Banda, who succeeded Mutharika following a constitutional order on April 7, empanelled a Commission of Inquiry to look into circumstances surrounding the death of her predecessor.
Singini said although he reached the hospital already clinically dead medics tried to resuscitate him.
"Medical personnel made attempts to resuscitate him and at 2.30 pm they pronounced him dead," he said.
Pres. Banda said she would read the report "thoroughly and consult officials on the way forward" before making the full report public. Apart from how Mutharika actually died, the Commission was also tasked to examine how his case was handled from the time he collapsed and the time government officially announced his death.
Mutharika reportedly died while have a meeting with a Lilongwe legislator Agnes Penemulungu in his office. Penemulungu has never spoken in public about circumstances surrounding Mutharika's collapse.
Singini said his commission failed to get the post-mortem from Mutharika's children after it was presented to them by a South African hospital.
Mutharika died at the lowest ebb of his eight-year presidency. He had picked fights with major Western donor countries which led to the worsening of the economy. Malawians rose up against him on July 20, 2011 during which 20 people were gunned down by police.-
© The Maravi Post 2013