Bingu wa Mutharika was public property - Joyce Banda
Malawi President Joyce Banda on Thursday said the late president Bingu wa Mutharika was a public property; hence, the nation deserves to know circumstances surrounding his death through an enquiry.
During a news conference on arrival in Blantyre from her foreign trips to the United Kingdom and the United States of America, Banda—in response to a question about the position by the late Mutharika’s family that rejected the enquiry on the basis that they know what killed him—said as president, Mutharika deserved a doctor and a first aid team and that Malawians are interested to know if these were available.
She said there were also conflicting dates on which Mutharika died, speculations and his death was announced by the world before Malawian authorities did it. She said it is important that Malawians know what happened.
On the African Union (AU) Summit initially scheduled to take place in Malawi, but moved to Ethiopia by the AU after Lilongwe refused to host Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir who wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for genocide crimes, Banda said she did everything in the interest of Malawians.
She said Vice-President Khumbo Kachali will represent Malawi at the summit next month, and pleaded that the matter be closed because she respects al-Bashir as Sudanese president.
And in response to a question that Malawi has become "a donor-fearing nation", Banda said Malawi benefited nothing from being arrogant to donors.
Said Banda: "We have listened to IMF, yes, and we are receiving aid because we have listened to them. Do we want fuel queues again? We should be asking why we are listening to them; we are [listening] because we are very dependent on them."
The President disputed claims by the opposition that she is travelling a lot, arguing the trips she has made so far are important. She said the trip to US was fully sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (Usaid).
She said she took advantage of the trip to the UK to normalise the dented Lilongwe-London relationship.
On a Special Cabinet Committee she appointed to probe Finance Minister Ken Lipenga’s role in the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) K30 billion scam, Banda, who gave the committee one week to come up with findings, said she called when she was away and was told the report is ready.
The President, who still maintains a long motorcade of 15-plus fuel-guzzling vehicles and 11 police motorcycles, said Cabinet has decided not to have July 6 independence celebrations and opted for prayers to save money. Banda has promised she would reduce her motorcade.