Lilongwe – Minutes after Malawi vice president Joyce Banda called on the nation to follow the constitution and allow her to rule the southern African nation following the sudden heart attack that struck President Bingu wa Mutharika yesterday and left the nation in suspense about his condition, diplomatic heads have started paying courtesy calls at her house. Mutharika suffered a cardiac arrest and was rushed to state run Kamuzu Central Hospital which has for months been running short of medication and had most of its outdated equipment together with frequent power failures not operating properly. He was later airlifted to South Africa. Malawi ran short of medicine following donor aid withdrawal last year over Mutharika’s dictatorial tendencies and the killing of 20 protesters who protested against his deteriorating poor and political governance.
The US also withdrew US$350 million which would have normalized power generation in the sub Saharan state. “I am in close contact with the South African government to give us an update on the condition of our Head of State, “ said Banda adding, “I will be calling for a press briefing by tomorrow to give the nation the feedback “Currently I would like to say that the constitution is clear on who becomes in charge in case of the president is incapacitated or dies,” says former women rights activists who was booted from Mutharika’s ruling Democratic Progressive Part (DPP) in 2010 to pave way for Bingu’s younger brother to take over leadership when he (Bingu) stepped out of power. Banda, an acclaimed women activist, is widely known for her efforts to empower grassroots women way before she ventured into politics. She later joined politics through the United Democratic Front (UDF) before she followed Mutharika to the DPP in 2005. In 2009 the presidential elections Mutharika picked her as his running mate riding mostly her grassroots popularity and connections. Mutharika won a landslide victory.
After the victory, Mutharika begun sidelining Banda and started canvassing for his young his brother to take over the political mantle. In 2011 Banda formed the People’s Party. Former Malawi president Bakili Muluzi Friday called on Malawians to be calm and respect the constitution saying Banda was supposed to take over leadership considering the critical condition Mutharika is said to be in. DPP and government official have not come out in the open to say how Mutharika is or what the country’s way forward is expected to be. Meanwhile civil society leaders in Malawi have also called on the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and government to respect the law of law and constitution following revelations that DPP cabinet ministers are in the secret meetings to decide who runs the country following the reported illness of president Mutharika. The civil society leaders said they are worried with information that the cabinet is trying to influence the army or the Chief Justice to take over government duties in the absence of the president. “We can assure you that this country is not in a political crisis but a succession crisis following the reports of Mutharika’s illness,” said chairperson of the CSO Rev MacDonald Semberka. He said “The constitution provides that the vice president takes over leadership in case the president is incapacitated or dies.” The rights activists say according to the constitution Banda has to be take command of the country’s armed forces and the police as well as call for any cabinet meeting. The diplomats that have been seen visiting Banda include the UN Malawi representative, Chinese, Zimbabwean, and US ambassadors. They have since been locked in a meeting