Callista Mutharika refuses to speak on family wrangle with Bingu's children
The late Malawi president Bingu wa Mutharika’s widow, former first lady Callista Mutharika, has said she will not comment on her step children’s statements against her.
Three adult children of Mutharika claimed this week that Callista physically confronted one of them last week when they visited the family’s Ndata Estate in Thyolo.
But Callista said in a telephone interview on Tuesday that she was not willing to comment on the issue.
Said Callista when informed that Weekend Nation reporters were at the opulent Casablanca Manor gates looking for her: “Not at the moment...I am not there, I am in Lilongwe.”
But the children, Tapiwa, Duwa and Madaliso, claimed in a joint statement the former first lady, with the help of her staff, physically confronted Madaliso when he visited the home the late president named Casablanca Manor.
They said the home is wholly-owned and maintained by a trust and their father built it on ancestral land for his late first wife, Ethel, and placed it in the trust under her name and those of her children.
They said the family estate is where the remains of their late mother, Ethel, are buried in the Mpumulo wa Bata Mausoleum.
Reads the statement: “In order to not cause confusion between properties created by him and his first wife Ethel and her children and his second wife Callista Chapola Mutharika, he purchased a home for the latter in her name in Zomba.
“The nation may remember the fifth anniversary of our mother’s passing fell during the traditional 40-day mourning period after the burial of our father. Therefore, to remember our late mother, we [her children and grandchildren] travelled to the estate to privately commemorate her passing, her life and visit her grave. Reports of a wild party are false and defamatory.”
The children claimed reports of any of them attacking Callista were false, adding it was the former first lady who attacked Madaliso and involved police.
Further reads the statement: “As a family, we support the former first lady Callista Chapola Mutharika and respect the time she has sought to mourn our father’s death and live on the family estate.
“It saddens us deeply to be denied access to our homestead [the place our parents are resting eternally] and threatened with police actions. While we are barred from our home, Callista Chapola Mutharika hosted numerous politically-affiliated functions without the family’s consultation during her mourning period.”
The children said inquiries about their well-being from the Office of the President, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and members of opposition parties have touched them.
Ben Phiri, personal assistant to late president’s young brother Professor Peter Mutharika, said in an interview during the week his boss summoned the warring parties to a round table to resolve the issue at family level.
Southern Region Police Headquarters spokesperson Nicholas Gondwa confirmed in an interview the verbal fight that ensued last Thursday between Callista and her stepchildren, but said police had withdrawn from the matter and asked the two sides to sort it out as a family.
Gondwa said Callista, about a week before the Thursday incident, went to Mikolongwe Police Unit to lodge a complaint that her stepchildren were disturbing her by holding parties at the multimillion kwacha palace when she was still mourning her husband.
He said police ignored her and did not go after assessing that it was a family matter, but when she sent a driver to Mikolongwe Police on Thursday to seek protection, police decided to go to establish what was going on.
The police sources at Mikolongwe Police Unit and Limbe Police Station disclosed that the three children went to the palace to change locks.
The sources also said the children told the former first lady that Ndata was their father’s property and they had a right to access any room; hence, they wanted to change the locks. Callista reportedly protested this move.
According to our sources, upon arrival at the estate, police found a heated argument between the former first lady and her stepchildren.
The matter was referred to Limbe Police and a well-placed source at the station said the three children, on the same Thursday evening, went to Limbe Police where they demanded that the former first lady leave Ndata Estate, but they were advised to resolve the matter as a family.
Bingu died in April this year after he suffered a cardiac arrest. Ethel died in May 2007.