Thursday, 7 June 2012

Late Mutharika's family on Commission of Inquiry - Misplaced shock

According to the family of late Bingu wa Mutharika, Malawi's third president, are frowning upon the Commission of Inquiry that his successor Joyce Banda instituted to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of her predecessor in April, 2012.

“We want to put it on record that we the bereaved family did not at any point request for a Commission of Inquiry and we will not be party to it. Why would we do that when we know all the facts surrounding the death of our late beloved,” a statement from the family reads in part as quoted by Zodiak.

Whether the commission of inquiry is necessary or not I think late Mutharika's family has got it wrong here. I don't think it has to take the family's request for government to investigate anything to do with a former head of state.

Yes it would be good if the idea of the inquiry originated from the family but this is not the same as saying it is bad for government to institute the commission of inquiry. Both are acceptable points from which the Inquiry could originate. It is therefore confounding to see that the bereaved family is painting the president-instituted inquiry 'bad'.

One thing that the family and probably others seem to ignore on this is the fact that government has a big stake in the death of any of the country’s president. It is every government’s responsibility to ensure that it has credible information about a country’s most important figures. Bingu remains one such person in Malawi’s history. I believe whether the family disputes them or not, the inquiry's findings will be Malawi government's official information regarding the death of the country's 3rd president.

And does the family have to be party to the work of the Commission of Inquiry? Well, may be.

I would have no problem if the family only said the Commission of Inquiry was not necessary but to say they are 'shocked' makes me doubt the family's sincerity on this issue. There should be more reasons against the inquiry than the family has given in its statement. I can only guess one.

Instituting the Commission of Inquiry, President Joyce Banda included in the commissioners’ Terms of Reference an investigation into aspects of the transfer of power to the incumbent.

Following Bingu’s death, there were cabinet meetings that are alleged to have been aimed at blocking Mrs Joyce Banda, then Vice President, from ascending to the presidency and have Peter, late Bingu wa Mutharika’s brother take over the country’s leadership instead. Peter Mutharika is said to have been present at those meetings. If he did not argue against the idea then it tells us he was in agreement with the arrangement.

Now, there have been calls for the prosecution of those that are alleged to have been involved in this what is being referred to as a ‘coup attempt’. If the ‘suspects’ are rounded up, Peter will not be spared as he was part of the scheme. The thought of this is certainly what makes the Mutharika family resent the idea of the Inquiry. They would not welcome any one with the task to investigate the coup attempt allegations.

On whether the Commission of Inquiry’s other Terms of Reference make sense or not is a separate question.

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