The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has learnt with dismay the “unpresidential”, insensitive, and embarrassing remarks the President of Republic of Malawi His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika made during the Swearing-in Ceremony for the Commission of Inquiry into the killings of persons with albinism. We therefore observe as follows:
- Mutharika’s shameless attempt to influence the outcome of the Commission.
Mutharika’s issuing of orders to the newly established Commission of Inquiry into the killings of persons with albinism on who to listen to and areas to focus on (and those not to focus on) can be out rightly interpreted as a deliberate tactic to interfere in the work of the Commission. We fear that such subjective remarks will influence the commission to look away from such allegations that implicate President Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party officials. The expectation of the public was that President Mutharika would stick to giving the Commission the terms of reference and reporting procedures and deadlines. Telling the Commission what to do and what to look for is outrageous. As HRDC, we strongly hold that the Commission should be left to do its work- without any executive or whatever interference- independently and professionally in order to come up with their independent conclusions and recommendations. As HRDC, we strongly condemn Mutharika’s remarks on this.
- Ungrateful Mutharika.
We find Mutharika’s attacks on the former Leader of Opposition Right. Hon. Dr Lazarus Chakwera, the Vice President of Malawi Right. Hon. Dr Saulos Chilima, Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) President Overtone Khondowe, and two members of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) Timothy Mtambo and Charles Kajolobeka as not only misplaced but also a direct attack to the collective national and global cause against the killings of persons with albinism in Malawi. We at HRDC are of the strong view that these individuals and their respective associations and coalitions are now the object of Mutharika’s wrath simply for waking up President Mutharika from slumber to act decisively on the continued barbaric attacks on persons with albinism in the country, and also their continued call for accountability for Mutharika to clear his name and those of his associates in the Blue camp in the leaked audio clips implicating him in the killings of persons with albinism.
It is an established fact that in the absence of a resilient and consistent wave of State’s accountability on the killings of persons with albinism spearheaded by these individuals, APAM, HRDC, CCJP, Chancellor College (Faculty of Law), FEDOMA, NGO GCN and other Malawians of goodwill, President Mutharika would have not made any steps towards implementing the Nation Action Plan including the very institution of the Commission of Inquiry into these killings. It is therefore weird to see President Mutharika –instead of commending these actors for waking him up from slumber to begin acting on the killings of persons with albinism- stoop so low to employ “blame game” as strategy to divert public attention from real issues requiring his government’s leadership in dealing with the vice.
- It’s our Money! Not Mutharika’s!
We at HRDC see Mutharika’s insensitive personal glorification of hosting persons with albinism at Malawi Institute of Management (MIM) as not only an act of hypocrisy of highest order but also a clear reflection of a leader who has lost touch with reality. All Malawians of goodwill including persons with albinism witnessed a historic but embarrassing event on the eve of the vigils where President Mutharika run away from his own people who were geared at petitioning him at State House on the continued killings of persons with albinism. If Mutharika really cared about the plight of persons with albinism, he would have not only cancelled his eleventh hour trip to Mzuzu in order to receive a petition from A PAM – an entitle duly recognised in the National Action Plan as a representative of persons with albinism- but also fired his Minister Nicholas Dausi for ‘acting suspiciously’ in his statement that the killings of persons with albinism had not reached the level warranting a vigil.
Furthermore, it is weird for Mutharika to boast of hosting persons with albinism at Malawi Institute of Management (MIM) as the best thing he has ever done when actual fact he has miserably failed to protect them from abductors. Besides, President Mutharika did not use his personal money to host persons with albinism at MIM but rather tax-payers money. If truth be told, it is the tax payer who hosted persons with albinism at MIM at a critical time when President Mutharika had run away from them under the guise of pressing government assignments in Mzuzu. And indeed, no tax payer has complained that the use of such funds to host persons with albinism was a waste of public money. In fact, as tax payers we would want Mutharika to take a step further by allocating more funds (our taxes) towards the protection of persons with albinism and stop these killings NOW!
- Has President Mutharika disowned persons with albinism?
HRDC further observe the insensitive use of the phrase “their people” by President Peter Mutharika in reference to his ill-founded claim that Timothy Mtambo and Charles Kajolobeka “abandoned” persons with albinism during the vigils. President Mutharika said: “To our surprise, Mr. Timothy Mtambo and Mr. Charles Kajoloweka took over the show only to abandon their people with albinism stranded in the rain, without water, without shelter and without transport.” By using this phrase, is Mutharika disowning persons with albinism to the extent that he does not call them “his people” but rather Mtambo and Kajoloweka’s people? What kind of a father is he? What does this say about his professed concern about the killings of persons with albinism? Is President Mutharika sincere? As we have already stated earlier, persons with albinism joined by many Malawians of goodwill including Mtambo and Kajoloweka braved the rains in their quest for Mutharika’s decisive answers on the continued killings of persons with albinism but sadly Mutharika had run away from them.
- Mutharika’s insensitive remarks on Chasowa,
Mutharika’s attack on the Commission of Inquiry into the Robert Chasowa’s murder is regrettable. Does this not explain why Mutharika has paid a blind eye into the recommendations on the murder of Robert Chasowa commission of inquiry? Does this explain why Mutharika has been rewarding some of those implicated in the Chasowa murder with public positions? We as Human Rights Defenders are shocked by Mutharika’s statements at a time when Mutharika’s government has been promising the nation as well as speaking on various international human rights treaty bodies that it was making head ways into the investigations on Chasowa’s murder.
As HRDC, we will not be moved by Mutharika’s statements, and indeed we will continue to fearlessly hold him accountable until his government fully protects, promote, respect and fulfil the right to life of persons with albinism. We will not tire in demanding answers on the suspicious death of a suspect (Buleya) and a series of suicides committed by suspects in the albino killings in the hand of Malawi Police. Yes, we will not relent in demanding Mutharika to clear his name in the alleged leaked clip implicating him and others in the killings of persons with albinism. Lastly, we will continue to remind Mutharika to fully honour his commitments in the National Action Plan against the killings of persons with Albinism.
God bless Malawi.
12th March 2019
Timothy Mtambo Gift Trapence
HRDC National Chair HRDC National Vice Chair
Billy Mayaya - HRDC Central Region Chair
Madalitso Banda - HRDC Eastern Region Chair
Masauko Thawe - HRDC Southern Region Chair
Charles Kajoloweka – YAS Director & HRDC Member
Makhumbo Mkanavimbundi Munthali – A deeply concerned Citizen & HRDC Member