Peter Mutharika Fails to appear at press briefing
President Peter Mutharika Thursday chose to shy away from the media when he was expected to address the nation on, among other things, the strange killings in the Southern Region and the incessant power blackouts that have left businesses, families and livelihoods in dire straits.
Mutharika, who returned from New York after attending the United Nations General Assembly (Unga), as per tradition was expected to brief the media about his engagements while at the UN and answer questions why he spent extra 11 days in New York.
Unga press conferences have been a rare one-on-one interactive opportunity between the President and the local media.
There were expectations that Mutharika would answer questions about the violence that his Democratic Progressive Party supporters are alleged to have unleashed on other political party leaders and supporters.
People also expected Mutharika to address the chaos that Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Grace Chiumia created by ordering the arrest of registration officers and the bloodsucking rumours that have claimed about seven lives in Mulanje and Nsanje.
But instead, Mutharika asked his aides and the Foreign Affairs Minister to cover up for him, which unfortunately ended up attracting questions from journalists about why the President failed to show up.
“It is an expectation but not mandatory for the President to address the media on Unga engagements,” State House Director of Communication Bright Molande told journalists.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Emmanuel Fabiano, admitted that the President needs to respond to some issues but insisted that the press conference was not the only platform the Head of State would use to respond to issues arising.
“But for today, we are focusing on what happened at the UN,” Fabiano said.
On concerns about Mutharika’s prolonged stay in the United States after Unga, Fabiano said Unga was for two weeks but the President stayed longer to complete other assignments. Mutharika is said to have attended 16 meetings out of 38 meetings which he was invited to attend.
The minister said the UN meetings take place throughout the year but Mutharika only attends the assembly, which is the climax, and there are more engagements that the President chooses not to attend, opting to come back home.
“But you also have to know that the President could be away for two days and do nothing or he could be away for a week and do a lot,” he said.
Fabiano also said what is more important is not how many people from Malawi went to New York and how much they spent but what the country has benefited from the assembly.
Molande said contrary to the insinuation that Mutharika is extravagant, Malawians should look at him as somebody who is walking the austerity measures talk.
He said Mutharika was staying on the cheap western side of New York City at the time most heads of state were staying on the expensive eastern side of the city saying the issue of overstaying does not even arise.
Molande also said nearly all heads of state travelled to the assembly in their private jets as Mutharika travelled commercial.
The government has described the assembly and various other high-level meetings that Mutharika and other Malawian representatives attended as highly successful.
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