Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) have condemned the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government’s “dishonest and insensitive conduct” towards the health of the President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika.
The Malawi leader has returned home after a weeks-long visit to the United States which sparked rumours over his health.
President Mutharika, 76, flew to New York a month ago to give a speech at the UN General Assembly on September 25 but there had been no word from him since, prompting speculation online that he was critically ill or even dead.
The government spokesman Malison Ndau moved to dispel the rumours, insisting that the president was “enjoying very robust health”.
However, on arrival Sunday at Kamuzu International Airport, the President was not visibly recuperating from what appeared an operation on his shoulder.
In a joint statement signed by CHRR and Cedep executive directors Timothy Mtambo and Gift Trapence respectively, the two human rights organisations have said Mutharika is “unwell.”
“We find it unbecoming and condescending that the DPP government has been consistently lying to the Malawi nation that the President is in ‘robust health’ and ‘101% fit’ when the truth is the Malawi leader is unwell. This is un-called for,” reads the statement in part.
The statement says CHRR and Cedep wish to remind the DPP government that it governs on trust enshrined in Section 12 of the Constitution of Malawi.
“As such, Malawians expect nothing short of trustworthy information and conduct from government.
“We at CHRR and Cedep wish to underscore the point that the health of President is of paramount public concern, as he is the leader for all Malawians. Malawians deserve to know the true health condition of their leader to derive confidence in the leader’s capacity to deliver on the country’s numerous challenges.”
The two organisations say the President is “not an immortalised figure” , saying he is a human being who call fall ill like the rest of Malawians.
“ As such, it is beneath the government machinery to hide the illness of the country’s leader. This culture of needless secrecy needs to stop,” the statement said.
However, CHRR and Cedep have called upon government to apologise to the Malawi nation for the lies it has been peddling on the whereabouts and health of the President since the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Nonetheless, as per Constitutional demands, specifically Section 37, the rights bodies ask the President and his government to urgently explain to Malawians the cost of UNGA, including the expenses on the President’s medical treatment.
They have also asked President Mutharika to “honorably step aside to concentrate on his further treatment and recuperation” and wished Mutharika a “speedy recovery.”
On arrival, Mutharika did not address a news conference.
nothing to reporters or the hundreds of supporters who waited to welcome him.
A prominent rights activist Billy Mayaya has also called for authorities to release a statement on the leader’s health.
“We know everybody gets sick, but Mutharika is a president and there is a need for Malawians to know about the health of their president,” said Mayaya as quoted by AFP.
Mutharika, a former lawyer, was elected in 2014 for a five-year term.