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Bingu’s death inquiry: Report ignores post-mortem

Former president late Bingu wa Mutharika died on April 5, 2012 in Lilongwe of a heart disease, a Commission of Inquiry report says.

However, one of Mutharika’s children was given a report on the results of the postmorten, but the commission failed to include it in its compilation as it had already printed the report.

The summary of the report by the Commission, which was chaired by retired Judge Elton Singini, also avoided explaining circumstances of transition of state power following the president’s death, but which have likely been covered in the main report which President Joyce Banda is yet to release to the public.

Singini told Banda at Kamuzu Palace yesterday that the Commission made efforts to get the post-mortem report from hospital authorities in South Africa but failed.

They sought the President’s help, who did assist, but the doctor who brought the results of the post- mortem handed over the report to one of Mutharika’s children instead of the Office of the President and Cabinet where he was told to personally hand it over.

“We understand that those contacts by Your Excellency have now resulted in the release of the post-mortem report of late President Bingu wa Mutharika which was to be handed over to the Malawi Government through the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), in particular to the Chief Secretary in that Office.

“However, we also understand that the South African doctor who was assigned to bring the report to Malawi and to hand it personally to OPC decided, when he was in Malawi, to hand the report instead to the late President’s family and did actually hand it to one of the children,” Singini said.

He said the Commission established that Mutharika had a history of the heart disease and that in 2009, he suffered a minor heart attack.

The Commission has recommended the establishment of a state-of-the art VVIP medical facility to be located at the headquarters of the Malawi Defence Force in Lilongwe “for the medical treatment of the President in sickness, as well as in death, and this would also be to guarantee state security that goes with a person holding office as President.”

However, Singini’s summary of the report avoided revealing the findings of the commission pertaining to the transition drama that also involved the “Midnight Six” cabinet ministers who held a press briefing at night in Lilongwe allegely to block President Banda, who was Vice President then, from assuming the presidency.

President Banda has since said the government will release the report to the public after she reads it.

“I instituted the Commission to ensure that the truth comes out and that issues pertaining to our history regarding the death of a sitting head of state are properly recorded …and that we get lessons on various matters you have raised in the report,” she said.

In an interview yesterday, Bingu’s brother Peter Mutharika said his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has had reservations with the inquiry from scratch.

“As a party, all that was necessary was a forensic investigation about the cause of death and any other issue that did not need doctors was unnecessary. However, let’s see the contents of the report first before making a formal response.

“As a family, we had a position on this matter and it never changed but we believe we cooperated with the inquiry. Children of the late president who are not politicians were summoned to appear before the inquiry and we obliged,” Peter said.

Apart the judge, the Commission comprised retired Inspector General of Police Joseph Aironi, pathologist Charles Dzamalala, priest father Joseph Mpinganjira, ordinary citizens Brian Nyasulu, Tiwonge Loga, Elizabeth Sibale, Esther Chioko and lawyer Jabbar Alide.

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