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Government in denial—Pac

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Governance organisation, Public Affairs Committee (Pac), has hit at government for allegedly covering up the health status of President Peter Mutharika who is now under spotlight after being seen waving at and greeting dignitaries, using his left hand, on his arrival from United States of America (USA), on Sunday.

Mutharika is known to be right-handed and the peculiar gesture of using his left hand has sparked a fresh debate, especially on the social media.

But State House has rubbished rumours that Mutharika might be ill as evidenced from his conduct at Kamuzu International Airport (Kia) which showed that the President’s right hand was inactive on his arrival as well as what social media reports said looked like a cannula on his right hand.

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Pac Spokesperson, Peter Mulomole, yesterday accused the government of dishonesty about what exactly Mutharika was doing in the US during the extra two weeks.

“There is nothing embarrassing about somebody getting sick and as far as we are concerned, it is only God who doesn’t get sick. So, nobody will be shocked to hear that the President is sick: we all get sick. They should come out in the open and tell the nation that our leader is not feeling very well that’s when we can start a reasonable conversation,’’ Mulomole said.

He said Mutharika’s arrival pictures speak volumes of his health status and it is “shocking” that government officials are still in denial when the truth is right before everybody’s eyes.

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Meanwhile outspoken Rumphi East lawmaker, Kamlepo Kalua, has demanded  that there be an emergency meeting of Parliament so that Section 87(2) of the Constitution should take effect.

The section reads in part: “The President shall not be deemed to be incapacitated for the purposes of this section until and unless-there is a written declaration, certified by a board of independent medical practitioners, that the President is unable to discharge duties of the Office of the President. The declaration is signed by the First- Vice President and a majority of cabinet, holding office at the time and the declaration is submitted by the First-Vice President to the Office of Speaker of the National Assembly.”

Kamlepo argued that it is a prima-facie case that Mutharika is unwell and the constitutional provision should take effect.

“Let the VP take over for 90 days then we will call for general elections because it is not yet half way [into five years legal term] but if it was three years, then the Vice President could have finished the term.”

But a constitutional law expert, Edge Kanyongolo, has cautioned those agitating for Section 87 to be effected to tread carefully because sickness does not equal to incapacitation.

“I do not have sufficient information so that the process can be triggered or not. This can be initiated by anyone whether an opposition member or any citizen but a president can be sick without being incapacitated in the legal sense. So, I think when we jump from saying the President looks unwell then its issue of incapacity… I don’t know,” Kanyongolo said.

Both Presidential Press Secretary Mgeme Kalilani and Government Spokesperson, Malison Ndau, could not be reached on their phones yesterday for their comments.

Director of Communications at State House, Bright Molande, was also not available as his phone kept ringing on several attempts.

Mutharika is yet to address the nation three days after arrival from the United Nations General Assembly (Unga) trip and speculation is rife that he is under medical care.

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