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Public Affairs Committee queries Peter Mutharika’s status

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Public Affairs Committee (Pac) has slammed government for the continued secrecy surrounding the prolonged stay of President Peter Mutharika in the United States of America (USA) as well as on the specifics of what the President is still doing in New York, two weeks after the end of United Nations General Assembly (Unga).

The lack of sound and reasonable communication from government on Mutharika’s absence has created room for rumour mongering and wild stories among the public with some expressing concerns on the President’s health.

But Presidential Press Secretary, Mgeme Kalilani, who is still in the US with Mutharika together with other undisclosed number of officials, has maintained that the President is attending to equally important meetings in America adding that he is still in control of affairs of the state and that at the right time the nation shall be informed.

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But Pac Executive Board which met in Blantyre, yesterday, has observed that government’s silence has created an “unhealthy situation” which according to Pac Spokesperson, Peter Mulomole, is not fit for a democratic Malawi.

Mulomole said members expressed displeasure with the culture of secrecy which seems to be gaining ground in the country arguing that in democratic dispensation information is key.

“This is not new, I mean right from 1964 or 66 we haven’t been very open on status of head of state. We feel that we should not disclose the situation of elders. But in a multiparty democracy, I think the environment should be different. People should know. I think there should be mindset change. He is a public figure, therefore, as a public figure people have a right to know,” he said.

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Mulomole further said the executive owes Malawians an explanation on where their leader is and not keep them guessing like little children saying leaving a vacuum has far reaching consequences.

Pac board members, who are set to hold an inclusive conference soon, also took time to discuss the extent of corruption and fraud in the country.

“What worries us is that corruption is not just rampant in the public spheres but even in the private sphere and the faith community themselves. We are struggling with fraud and corruption. It’s now becoming a culture, and we take it for granted,” he said.

The members agreed to undertake a process of documenting corruption and fraud cases starting with government institutions but some members expressed reservations saying bodies such as the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) are unlikely to cooperate as some officials at the graft busting body are considered to be government spies.

Commenting on earlier calls for Mutharika to step down within 90 days, the Pac Spokesperson said that the meeting avoided discussing sticky issue and left them to delegates during the conference whose dates are yet to be set by the secretariat.

Impeccable sources who also attended the meeting confided to this paper that in the meantime, the board has resolved not to make public the dates for Pac Annual General Meeting to elect new office bearers as they are strong fears that the ruling Democratic Progressive Party wants to infiltrate the body to plant its own agents.

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