[Debate] (Fwd) 'Drunken glee' and 'heartfelt condolences': Malawi's (ex-WB) dictator/economist Mutharika kicks the bucket
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sun Apr 8 05:36:38 BST 2012
Female president for Malawi
"We all wished him dead, sorry to say that."
Lilongwe -- Malawi's state radio announced this morning that President
Bingu wa Mutharika had died, and Vice-President Joyce Banda prepared to
take over as southern Africa's first female head of state.
The radio announcement confirmed reports by medical and government
sources yesterday that the 78-year-old Mutharika had died shortly after
a heart attack the previous day.
The delay in the official announcement, as well as the airlifting of
Mutharika's body to South Africa on Thursday, had aroused suspicions
about the succession process in the impoverished southern African nation.
The United States, which has been an important aid donor for Malawi,
expressed alarm at the official silence and said it did not want to see
any delay in the swearing of Banda, a women's rights activist.
Malawi's constitution is clear that Banda should take over, although a
smooth transition has not been completely assured since she was booted
out of Mutharika's ruling DPP party in 2010 after an argument about
Mutharika appeared to have been grooming his brother Peter, the foreign
minister, as his de facto successor.
"Malawi's constitution lays out a clear path for succession and we
expect it to be observed. We are concerned about the delay in the
transfer of power," the US State Department said.
"We trust that the vice-president who is next in line will be sworn in
Banda is due to hold a news conference today, officials said, as well as
meet the attorney-general and head of the armed forces, suggesting any
divisions over the transfer of power have been ironed out.
Few of Malawi's 13 million people mourned Mutharika, whom they regarded
as an autocrat personally responsible for an economic crisis that
stemmed ultimately from a diplomatic spat with former colonial power
Britain a year ago.
"We know he is dead and unfortunately he died at a local, poor hospital
which he never cared about -- no drugs, no power," said Chimwemwe Phiri,
a Lilongwe businessman waiting in a line of cars for fuel at a petrol
As reports of the death of the self-styled "Economist in chief" swept
the capital, there were pockets of drunken jubilation among those who
accused Mutharika of turning back the clock on 18 years of democracy in
the "Warm Heart of Africa".
"I am yet to see anyone shedding a tear for Bingu," said Martin Mlenga,
another businessman. "We all wished him dead, sorry to say that."
Medical sources said Mutharika's body was flown to South Africa because
Malawi's energy crisis was so severe the Lilongwe state hospital would
have been unable to conduct a proper autopsy or even keep his body
There has been no comment from the South African authorities.
Zuma prays for Malawi
Solly Maphumulo | 08 April, 2012 00:16
MOURNED: President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi
President Jacob Zuma yesterday extended his "heartfelt"
condolences to the people of Malawi following the death of
President Bingu wa Mutharika.
Mutharika, 78, suffered a heart attack in Malawi on Thursday night. He
was flown to SA, but was declared dead on arrival.
Zuma said: "As the government and the people of South Africa, we reach
out in our thoughts and prayers to the people of Malawi during this
He called on Malawians to remain calm and said: " We are confident that
Malawi's democratic institutions will ensure a peaceful and orderly
Under the Malawi constitution, Vice-President Joyce Banda was sworn in
as president yesterday. Mutharika expelled her from the ruling party in
2010 in a succession battle.
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