Written by Patseni Mauka
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the truth must always be told. Mutharika’s latest photo show with a breakaway section of the people living with albinism will not bear any fruits. Not in the near future. The reason is that what Mutharika calls new interventions are a mixture of what other people like Vice President Dr Saulos Chilima rightly said needed to have been done long time ago. What Mutharika has done is to belatedly get some of those pieces of advice and add other things which are just for political show.
There are two words that define Mutharika’s leadership; excruciatingly slow. On issues of national importance Mutharika behaves like he still lives in America and reads about the issues on the internet. Yet he is the president of the country and the commander in chief of all armed forces, with first hand access to the intelligence services.
After the meeting with people living with albinism this week, the president announced that he will institute a commission of enquiry to get to the bottom of the killings and abductions of people with albinism. Can you believe that? In 2018, Amnesty International reported that since November 2014, the number of reported crimes against people with albinism in Malawi had risen to 148 cases, including 14 murders and seven attempted murders, according to Malawi Police figures.
However, Amnesty International established that at least 21 people with albinism had been killed since 2014. This shows the problem has been there for a long time. Why did it take Mutharika five years to institute a commission of inquiry? Malawians have been crying for action all these years. But Mutharika did not act with urgency all this time because to him the cries were unnecessary noise. He was busy with projects he believes are important to him and his party. Now that he feels that the crying is noise which can cost him reelection, he wants to be seen to be doing something.
The President has also directed the Minister of Finance to immediately fund the outstanding activities in the National Action Plan (NAP), which include equipping and empowering police to protect people with albinism. The action plan is of February 2015 and was revised in 2018. He is talking of funding it now, four years later!
It seems all this time, Mutharika was waiting for some donor to fund the action plan, a terrible thought that Vice President Saulos Chilima doesn’t agree with. Chilima said in his media statement; “the expectation that donors would fund such an urgent matter of national importance instead of funding from the country’s Consolidated Fund demonstrates the lack of seriousness in dealing with the attacks on persons with albinism decisively.” I couldn’t agree more..
Mutharika is living in a world separate from Malawians who believe this matter must have been dealt with the urgency it deserves.
The President has further announced that Government will reward 5 million Kwacha to anyone providing information that is proven to be credible relating to any conspiracy to abduct or kill persons with albinism. Again why didn’t he do this five years ago? What was Mutharika waiting for all this time?
This is something he could have done four years ago! He cannot claim that there was no money because the 5 million Kwacha he has promised is just a small fraction of the 145 million Kwacha which was deposited into the DPP bank account by a corrupt businessman after getting a food ration contract at the Malawi Police.
Furthermore, suspects who could prove vital in investigating the source of these killings have been mysteriously dying in police custody. As a commander in chief, he has done nothing, absolutely nothing to stop the killing of key suspects in police custody. How is he going to protect anyone who comes up to provide the necessary information? Without any plan to protect witnesses and key suspects, this 5 million reward initiative is useless. Mutharika must wake up from his slumber and be proactive for Malawi to solve these murders.
As pointed out by Chilima in his media statement on atrocities suffered by people living with albinism; the protection of persons with albinism and ensuring that they fully enjoy their status as citizens of this country is not just a moral obligation on the part of the State and the people of Malawi, it is a binding legal obligation backed by the full force of law. As head of state, Mutharika’s inaction for a long time has failed the nation. Such kind of leadership should not continue.
Always reactive, Mutharika’s directives are coming after Chilima provided an eleven point guidance on how to solve the atrocities. There are many other issues that Mutharika has acted after Chilima’s guidance. Although this is a good thing, the problem is that he waits until the problems cause a lot of suffering on Malawians. Mutharika is too slow and tired. He should not be given another five year mandate. It’s time to show Mutharika the door to retirement!
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are not necessarily the views of the Publisher or the Editor of Maravi Post