African Press International (API)

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Malawi Detained Minister’s Health Improves

Posted by African Press International on March 14, 2013

  • By Joel Chirwa

Lilongwe, 12 March: Malawi Economic Planning and Development Minister Goodall Gondwe health has improved a day after collapsing from heart attack few hours after his arrest and remand in police custody.

Gondwe is among 11 people who were picked by Malawi police yesterday for allegedly  trying to block incumbent President Joyce Banda from succeeding former President Bingu wa Mutharika who died  in April last year after suffering cardiac arrest.

According to his personal doctor, Dr Hetherwick Ntaba, Gondwe health has now normalized hours after his admission for hypertension to a privately owned medical facility in the capital Lilongwe.

“Honorable Gondwe is now feeling better. His blood pressure has normalized. He is only complaining of back pain. One of the things that happened while in police cell is that he collapsed in the process he injured his back. But the doctors are currently observing him closely,” said Ntaba in an interview aired today.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials and former First Lady, Callista Mutharika has described the arrests as politically motivated.

“People were saying women make better leaders. We thought this woman would bring better environment. What are we seeing now? When on podium she is fond of preaching forgiveness and even quoting biblical verses. But is this forgiveness?” she queried.

The view shared by DPP Deputy Publicist Francis Kasaira who said in an interview today (Tuesday) that the Commission of Inquiry into the death of Mutharika and transition to Banda rule was not necessary arguing the government needed to consult the family of the former deceased president.

“Bingu is not the first serving president to die while in office. It has happened elsewhere like in Zambia. The Commission of Inquiry [in this matter] was not necessary. The family [of the deceased president] also would have been consulted but were not,” said Kasaira.

He added that the family of deceased president had gone through enough pain for the loss of their relative.

But the government through Information Minister Moses Kunkuyu dismissed the claims that there was no political motive in the matter saying it was purely a security matter.
“The law enforcement agencies are of strong view that several criminal were committed by curtained individuals mentioned in the report. It is these law enforcement agencies that have detected these criminal activities. And not all those who have arrested are politicians. They (police) are simply doing their work,” said Kunkuyu

Yesterday DPP supporters have been staged violent protest by smashing cars, blocking roads with burning tyres, while singing anti government songs in capital Lilongwe and commercial city Blantyre. But anti-riot police moved and fired several rounds of tear gas to quell the fracas.

Similar scenes occurred again today in Lilongwe where the suspects are currently held. Scores of DPP supporters who earlier thronged the premises of Lilongwe Magistrates Court where the suspects were due for bail hearings engaged police in running battles later in the afternoon after the state had failed to produce the accused persons to court.

By the time this reporter was filing this report, there were doubts on the possibility of the suspects being granted bail amidst reports that the bail hearing have been shifted to Thursday this week.

Under Malawi Constitution the Vice President is supposed to take the reins of power when the President has died or incapacitated.

Mutharika died suddenly on 5 April after suffering massive heart attack. His death was not officially announced for two days though international media had announced his death a day later courting unnamed senior government officials and international diplomatic sources.

The death announcement was deliberately delayed in order to work out a succession plan that was schemed to block the then Vice President Joyce Banda who was fired from the Democratic Progressive Party and formed her on People`s Party to ascend to Presidential seat.

But when this appeared to be not adding up, some tried to convince the army to take over but Malawi military leadership turned down the request, insisting that the Constitution had to be respected.

The action which Malawi Constitutional Law expert, Dr Edge Kanyongolo said in an interview published yesterday was in violation of the law of the country.

“Joyce Banda had already become president by operation of the law. Any attempt to set up parallel presidency or to replace her by force or other unlawful means was tantamount to treason,” he said.

He also added that even concealment of the death the president was an offence.




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