President Peter Mutharika’s absence without leave in Malawi two weeks after attending the United Nations General Assembly has dominated headlines in Malawi press and the editorial comments after widespread rumours, including allegations that he is in critical condition at a hospital in the US.
Two of Malawi dailies, The Nation and the Daily Times wrote articles about Mutharika’s whereabout mystery as government spokesman Malison Ndau gave a default explanation that the Head of State is in robust heath and on official duties in America.
But The Nation editorial comment screamed “Stop these lies” title, saying Malawians have the right to know the whereabouts of their leader accusing the state machinery of not helping matters as the information about the President is “almost non-existent.”
The paper quoted what Ndau, who is also minister of information and communication, said last Friday that Mutharika was due to return home over the weekend and would open the Malawi Investment Forum in Lilongwe which was opened by vice president Saulos Chilima.
“Wherever he is, the President is spending funds from the public purse, raised through taxes. It is for this reason that Malawians have the right to know where their president is, what he is doing,” reads the editorial in The Nation.
The paper said false statement form government machinery are “tantamount to disrespecting of Malawians by those entrusted with the authority to run the affairs of this state.”
And the flagship Daily Times said in its editorial that government “has itself to blame” on Mutharika rumours.
The paper said nature abhors vacuum, saying when information is not forthcoming, people begin to come up with conspiracy theories to make sense of the absence of credible information.
It also said Malawians have every right derived from the Constitution to question, and in the absence of official communication, speculate about the President’ whereabouts.
The editorial said Mutharika has breached the three pillars that he tries to “force down” on Malawians.
“He is not being patriotic, he is not showing any form of integrity or indeed a spirit of hard work that would have seen him being home to solve the numerous problems riddling this country,” reads the editorial comment.
He warned Malawians that spreading false rumours about the health of the President is a criminal offense, warning that government will not hesitate to bring to book those responsible for “rumour-mongering which is clearly aimed at spreading fear and panic among law abiding Malawians.”
Ndau said the nation will be advised in the next few days regarding the dates Mutharika will return home, assuring that there is therefore no need to panic.
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