I have taken note of the recent Press reports/newspaper articles in which the Director of Public Prosecutions is reported to have directed the Police to investigate Hon Dr Hetherwick Ntaba and myself on our alleged involvement in the killings of people with albinism. It is shocking that the manner in which Government wants to pursue this matter carries with it the same pre-2020 propaganda that was intended to discredit my name using the killings of people with albinism. At that time, the political goal of this propaganda by the opposition was to destroy the name of Arthur Peter Mutharika as we moved towards the 2019 Elections.
As the President at that time, I decided to respond to those allegations by doing two things. Firstly, I set up the Presidential Task Force on issues to do with killings of people living with albinism. That Task Force was headed by Dr Hetherwick Ntaba who was my Chief Advisor on Domestic Affairs and included Senior Government officials from relevant Ministries like Justice, Gender and Persons with Disabilities, Health; Traditional Healers Association, the Clergy, the Police and others. The Task Force worked tirelessly to come up with measures on protecting people living with albinism as well as addressing their welfare needs. It is unfortunate that Dr Ntaba was targeted for simply accepting to head and direct the work of the Task Force.
Secondly, I appointed a Commission of Inquiry to carry out an independent investigation. The Commission of Inquiry was appointed by me with effect from 5th March 2019 in exercise of powers conferred upon me by Section 89 (1 (g) of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi, as read with Section 2(1) of the Commissions of Inquiry Act (Chapter 18:01 of the Laws of Malawi) to investigate the spate of attacks, abductions and killings of persons with albinism. The Commission was expected to complete the work and submit a written report to His Excellency the President by
30th April 2019. However, the report was not submitted as expected due to unforeseen circumstances. The work of the Commission was resumed in May, 2020 and the final report was submitted in June, 2020.
1.1 Principles Applied by the Commission in Conducting its Mission
The Commission acted in accordance with the Constitutional principles and the provisions of the Commissions of Inquiry Act (Cap 18:01) and, subject thereto, had the power to consider, determine and inquire into all aspects related to the attacks, abductions and killings of persons with albinism. The Commission, in the course of the inquiry, was guided by, but not limited to, the following Terms of Reference:-
a) investigate, make findings and recommendations on any matter incidental to and connected with the attacks, abduction and killings of persons with albinism;
b) interrogate the root causes of the violations against persons with albinism, including the beliefs and superstitions surrounding the body parts of persons with albinism;
c) investigate the status the of investigations and prosecutions of outstanding cases on violations of rights of persons with albinism; including the role and effectiveness of various stakeholders such as the Malawi Police Service and the Judiciary in addressing the violations;
d) investigate the possible perpetrators responsible for the marketing of the body parts of persons with albinisms;
e) investigate how other countries, including Tanzania, have managed and addressed violations against persons with albinisms;
f) produce a written report on the findings with recommendations to Government on the course of action to be taken on the matter; and
g) submit the report to His Excellency the President of the Republic of Malawi.
As is the practice, a Commission of Inquiry has the duty to make full, faithful and impartial inquiry into the matters specified in the law that established the Commission.
The Commission of Inquiry was headed by Justice of Appeal Chinangwa (Retired) and the following were members:
- Honourable Justice Robert Reidson Chinangwa, SC, (Rtd), – Chairperson
- The Right Reverend Dr. Timothy P.K. Nyasulu
- Ms. Abigail Dzimadzi
- Ms. Grace E. Massah
- Paramount Chief Kawinga
- Bishop George Jobe
- Mrs. Lexa H. Chalera (PPM) DCP (Rtd)
- Counsel Brenda V. Kapenda- Secretary.
It is on record that the Commission of Inquiry completed its work just prior to my leaving office as President. My successor, Dr Lazarus Chakwera was presented with the full report of the Commission of Inquiry but for some reason, he has hitherto been unwilling to release the Report. I would like to place it on record that the inquiry was conducted as a response to a public emergency, namely, the killings of people with albinism. It therefore serves no public interest for the President to hide the contents of that report from the public whose right it is to know its contents. But it seems characteristic of the current Presidency to keep the masses guessing and in the dark regarding matters of public interest. I therefore urge him to release the Report of the Commission of Inquiry. I have a copy of the Report but, out of respect for the Presidency, I leave it to him to release it. But if he does not, then I will be compelled to make available to the public.
That Report contains the truth of the matter and should be available for the public to know the truth. It will also form a better basis for an investigation which the Director of Public Prosecutions has called for. And because we know the truth as to why the call for the investigation has resurfaced, we would welcome an open and thorough investigation that covers the conduct of both the prosecution and defence lawyers; the prisoners who made these false statements in Court as well as the politicians who engineered these lies about my alleged involvement and that of Dr Ntaba.
I am once again very sad to note that Dr Lazarus Chakwera’s government has started drumming up the same malicious propaganda against me in order to divert public opinion from corruption scandals, the rising cost of living, total loss of economic direction and complete failure of leadership. I am fully aware that Chakwera’s government is conspiring day and night to cook up charges that should destroy my name for reasons best known to them.
This propaganda was created by political forces who paid prisoners to start making ridiculous allegations that I was involved in selling bones of people with albinism. Hitherto, those rumour mongers have not been taken to task and some of them are part of his Government. I totally reject these allegations and challenge Government to release the Report and proceed with its investigations. It is a purely false, malicious and evil propaganda.
I want to challenge Dr Chakwera and his government to focus on decisively acting on their corruption scandals, the current economic crisis and begin to provide leadership to save Malawians who are suffering from the rising cost of living instead of wasting time laboring to destroy my name and reputation. I proudly served the people of Malawi, including people with albinism, and I shall always remain a man who seeks love, peace and unity among all Malawians.
His Excellency, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika
Former State President and President of Democratic Progressive Party(DPP)