President Peter Mutharika yesterday reacted angrily to social media reports over the weekend that he had died, saying he is in good health.
The President, who is Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) torch-bearer in the May 21 Tripartite Elections, was speaking during a whistle-stop campaign tour of Salima and Dedza.
The tour took him to Kamuzu Road, Katelera, Chipoka, Ngodzi and Mtakataka trading centres where he said some thugs went flat out to speculate that he had died when he is still enjoying good health.
Said Mutharika: “Anthu ena a chiwembu akuti ineyo ndafa. Mwandiona ine! Kodi mukuona mtembo pano? Ine ndafa? Iwo ndiamene ayambe kufa. Ayamba kupita ndi iwowo kumanda. [Some people are speculating that I am dead. You have seen me! Am I dead? Are you seeing a corpse? It is them who will die first. They will be the first to be buried].
“It is sad and shameful. They know I will crush them on May 21. We are going to shake them, we will trample on them.”
The social media reports went viral following the abrupt cancellation of his campaign whistle-stop tour of the two districts on Sunday. Some speculated that the President had been taken ill while others said he had died.
Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) Lloyd Muhara issued a statement of the cancellation on Saturday, stating that there were “urgent issues” the President needed to attend.
Chancellor College political scientist Ernest Thindwa and University of Livingstonia political commentator George Phiri differed on whether it was right for the President to comment on issues that were on social media.
Thindwa argued that the President, like any other citizen of the country, has the right to comment on issues from the social media because most fake news emanates from there.
He said: “The President is a citizen and he is entitled to comment on issues on social media. But the problem is that there was too much secrecy on what he was doing. The fake news resulted from the secrecy.”
Thindwa said officials should have stated, in the statement, tangible reasons for the cancellation of the rallies.
On his part, Phiri faulted Mutharika for commenting on the matter.
He said: “It is not right for him to comment because there are institutions which should have said what was supposed to be said.”
But Phiri agreed that people speculated Mutharika’s sickness because State House officials kept a tight lid on the reason for cancelling the whistle-stop tour.
During the rallies, Mutharika asked people of Salima to vote for him and a DPP member of Parliament (MP).
Speaking at Kamuzu Road, in the heart of Salima District, he said: “In 2014, you massively voted for me as the President but you did not give me a single MP. I urge you to vote for all five MPs in the district.”
Mutharika resumed his campaign trail after a two-day break, which Muhara said was due to unspecified engagements. The tour was cancelled when some officials were already on the ground waiting for him in the two districts.
Yesterday, Mutharika made stop-overs at a number of trading centres where he faced a low turnout of voters, especially at Katelera, Chipoka and Ngodzi. But the turnout was huge at Kamuzu Road and Mtakataka trading centres.
He promised voters a number of issues including construction of a prison in the district.
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu, who is shadow MP for Salima Central, assured the President that people in the district will vote for him because he has reduced hunger and given the district decent accommodation through the Malata and Cement Subsidy Programme.