Former president Peter Mutharika has accused the Lazarus Chakwera administration of diverting attention from corruption scandals and economic problems by framing him in the killing of a man with albinism.
His sentiments come five days after Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Steve Kayuni directed Malawi Police Service to begin criminal proceedings against Mutharika and his ex-aide Hetherwick Ntaba in connection with the 2018 murder in Machinga of MacDonald Masambuka, a 24-year-old man with albinism.
In a statement issued yesterday, Mutharika disputes allegations that he was involved in the killing, saying the Tonse government is creating fake charges to tarnish his name.
He said: “It is purely false, malicious, and evil propaganda. I want to challenge Dr. Chakwera and his government to focus on decisively acting on their corruption scandals, and the current economic crisis and begin to provide leadership to save Malawians who are suffering from the rising cost of living instead of wasting time labouring to destroy my name and reputation.”
Mutharika further stated that during his term, he set up a Presidential Task Force and an independent commission of inquiry to investigate the abductions and killings of persons with albinism.
He claimed that the commission presented a full report to Chakwera and urged him to release the report to the public.
“That report contains the truth of the matter and should be available for the public to know the truth. It will also form a better basis for an investigation which the Director of Public Prosecutions has called for,” said Mutharika.
However, Minister of Information and Digitisation Gospel Kazako, who is also government spokesperson, yesterday said the Tonse government philosophy hinges on the separation of powers.
He said the killings of persons with albinism issue is being handled by the courts that are independent and it has nothing to do with Chakwera’s government.
Said Kazako: “It has nothing to do with the presidency. This is an issue whose competence lies in the courts. To start blaming certain quarters that have nothing to do with the issue is wrong.”
Kayuni declined to comment on Mutharika’s statement, saying some of the issues the former president is raising are under investigation.
He said: “I won’t be making any intonations or comments as these are ongoing investigations conducted by another law enforcement agency and not us.”
In a letter dated July 1 2022 addressed to the office of the Inspector General of Police, Kayuni indicated that during the testimony in the Masambuka case and actual judgement, Mutharika and Ntaba, were mentioned time and again as having a part in the allegations.
In the letter, the DPP further observed that former High Court judge Dorothy NyaKaunda Kamanga, now a Justice of Appeal, wondered in her judgement why no investigations were undertaken to substantiate the said allegations.
Kayuni said possible charges for the two include causing one to harm a person with a disability (killing), causing someone to harm one with a disability (extraction of tissue), and transacting in human tissue.
Ntaba told The Nation edition of July 4 that there are so many critical issues that require investigation and follow-ups in the country and that the DPP’s directive was a move to divert public attention.
During the trial, former police officer Chikondi Chileka, who now been handed a 30-year custodial sentence and Alfred Yohane, who has been sentenced to life imprisonment, on several occasions alleged that Mutharika and Ntaba were behind the plot to kill Masambuka.
Chileka and Yohane’s testimonies compelled then presiding High Court Judge Zione Ntaba to recuse herself from the case in May 2019, citing the inclusion of her uncle’s name Hetherwick Ntaba in the case as the reason.
Masambuka, went missing on March 9 2018 and his body was later found buried in a garden on April 2 near Makawa Village.