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Peter Mutharika to decide on death sentence – The Times Group Malawi



By Isaac Salima:

President Peter Mutharika would wait for full completion of the trial process before deciding on whether to sign for the execution order of three people who were sentenced to death for murdering a person with albinism in Mchinji District.

Last week, the High Court sitting in Mchinji sentenced Douglas Mwale, Sophie Jere and Fontino Folosani to death for murdering a person with albinism in 2015.

However, the country’s heads of State have never signed for the execution of murder convicts since 1994, as it is deemed a violation of human rights.

The President’s Press Secretary, Mgeme Kalilani, said they would wait for full completion of the trial processes regarding the case.

“Ordinarily, the convicts are given 21 days to appeal the ruling; so, in this case, there are two things that might happen. It is either that the convicts might appeal or not. It is only at that time that the issue of warrant of execution shall arise,” Kalilani said.

Kalilani could not say if the President was ready to sign the execution order in the event that the convicts would not appeal or were not successful in the appeal case.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Bright Msaka, yesterday said the government’s position on death sentences was that it is the President’s prerogative.

“As a ministry, our job ends when we have achieved a conviction. What follows is beyond us because it is the prerogative of the President whether to sign or not. So in all the cases that the court has ordered a death sentence and the President did not sign for the death warrant, we did not feel betrayed [as a ministry] because that is for the President to decide,” Msaka said.

Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi President, Ian Simbota, said they hope that Mutharika would respect the law.

“We are an organisation that respects sanctity of life. We do not believe in killing but, in this case, the people that are being killed are Malawians who also wanted to live. These sentences have brought excitement among many people. We are all under the law of the land and we hope that the President will respect the rule of law,” Simbota said.

The court found Mwale, Jere and Folosani guilty of murdering Priscott Pepuzani.

The trio chopped off Pepuzani’s limbs and buried his body in a garden.

Mutharika’s government has been criticised for its alleged lukewarm response to the brutal attacks on persons with albinism who are targeted for their body tissues.

In March, Mutharika responded to the criticism by appointing a commission of inquiry to investigate the matter. Over 24 persons with albinism have been killed since 2014.

Former president Bakili Muluzi is on record to have said he could not sign for the execution order.

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Norwegian Church Aid denies funding HRDC’s anti-Ansah demonstrations



Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) has distanced itself from rumours hovering on the social media that the organisations is funding the ongoing demonstrations organized by Human Right Defenders Coalition (HRDC) aimed at forcing Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Chairperson Dr. Jane Ansah.

The country held its second tripartite election on May 21, 2019 where President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika was declared winner of the disputed polls.

Since then the country has seen a number of demonstrations aimed at forcing Ansah to resign for failing to manage the polls.

The general public is accusing Ansah of conniving with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the move forced Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and United Transformation movement (UTM) to seek legal action on the matter.

Due to the ongoing demonstrations, some DPP cadets have been threatening to make public the names of the organizations sponsoring the demonstrations.
The cadets then implicated NCA as one of the sponsors of the ongoing demonstrations but this has not pleased the organisations.

In a statement released by the organization, the grouping has described the statement as malicious aimed denting the image of NCA.

Below is the statement;

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Kenyan man hacks son to death,villagers celebrate



Villagers of Eshirembe village in Butere, Kakamega County, last weekend burst into celebration after an elderly man hacked his 38-year-old son to death.

Apparently, the deceased, Habil Amunza, was a notorious thief and had tried to attack his father before the unfortunate incident.

The two had quarreled over stolen maize and Amunza took a panga.

“When the father inquired from him in the evening, he, as usual turned against him in a murderous rage but fortunately, the father managed to snatch the panga and hacked him to death,” said their neighbor Jared Nandwa.

Adding: “They have been leading a quarrelsome life and we were afraid that the son would kill his father like he has been killing people around this village.

“Fortunately, it is the father who hacked him to death. God is Great!”

It also emerged that the deceased had killed Nandwa’s son some years back but was released just four months after his arrest.

William Wambani, also a neighbor, described the deceased as a notorious thief who had become a nuisance to the community.

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HRDC Informs Embassies on Malawi Airport Shutdown



Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has informed foreign embassies in country notifying them on their planned Anti-Ansah demonstrations to seal all major boarders and airports slated for August 26-30, 2019.

The move to notify the foreign embassies came immediately after president Peter Mutharika ordered Malawi Defense Force (MDF) and Malawi Police Service (MPS) to stop the demonstrations with the “necessary force”

Despite Mutharika’s threats, HRDC chairperson and his vice Timothy Mtambo have notified embassies of Zambia. Mozambique, Zimbabwe, south Africa and Tanzania on their planned demonstrations.

In the letter seen by Faceofmalawi reporter, HRDC has justified their decision to hold protests in the airports and boarders saying the government has failed to honor people’s needs by not firing Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah.

“We regret any inconveniences this may cause, but it is our hope that that government will heed to the demands of citizens,” reads part of the statement.

HRDC has been organizing nationwide demonstrations calling for resignation Ansah who is being accuised of manipulation presidential election results in favor of Mutharika who was declared winner of the disputed elections.

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Op-Ed: Of Cabinet Minister Ben Phiri and Blantyre street beer party – Malawi Nyasa Times – News from Malawi about Malawi



Last weekend, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development in President Peter Mutharika’s government,  Ben Malunga Phiri, became probably the first Cabinet Minister in the history of this country to throw a street beer party on a Sunday afternoon.

Ben Malunga Phiri, became probably the first Cabinet Minister in the history of this country to throw a street beer party

He removed his ministerial robes to fete his friends and compatriots at ‘Zibolibili’ off Victoria Avenue in downtown Blantyre on high volumes of alcohol. In pictures that went viral on social media, the Minister  is seen sitting on a chair surrounded by bingeing friends whilst talking and laughing unreservedly around many alcohol bottles. He seemed to be clearly comfortable and relentless with the group which was unmistakably enjoying itself as well.

Nyasa Times should state clearly at this onset that it is not wrong to chat with friends or to connect with long lost compatriots over a bottle of beer. Actually it is even encouraged to develop networks and bond with friends and acquaintances whilst enjoying a good brew or Shisha, because that is what creates societies and brings about peace and understanding. Just that the Ben Phiri scenario may not be your typical case of bonding over a glass of brew; it is something else appalling which is why we are talking.

To begin with, Honourable Malunga Phiri is a Parliamentarian representing the noble people of Thyolo Central Constituency. On top of that, he is also a Cabinet Minister in the new government of President Arthur Peter Mutharika; as such he is no ordinary individual whose actions and conduct cannot just be passed up. It is only natural that he should be under constant public scrutiny as duty bearer entrusted to carry out public duty under the Constitution of this Republic.

It also naturally expected that a Cabinet Minister should be a person of high decorum and integrity; one who is expected not to behave waywardly, and one expected to set a good example of positive public life particularly to the youths of this country.  It is such appalling and sad that  Ben Phiri has chosen to be a very bad example to the public because of his display of unbecoming public behavior, which is exactly what a Cabinet Minister ought not to do.

A ministerial position is very high position in this country because it means one is an advisor to the President and a key player in the policy-making framework for the government and a country. It means  Ben Phiri is a senior and entrusted individual who plays a key role at the apex level of decision making in the President Peter Mutharika government.  Now what message is he sending when he buys alcohol and throws street parties at ‘Ziboliboli’ with curio sellers and known hoodlums in full glare of the public and on Sunday afternoon?

We know he may have done that to endear himself with the people, who are mostly ‘men of town’; we also know that Ben Phiri has had his fair share of life in the streets and at ‘Ziboliboli’. He may have been driven by the desire to reconnect with his long time friends and to demonstrate to them that he has progressed in life and that he is Cabinet Minister now.  In as much as we understand that there is always a powerful instinct in people to ‘show off’ to friends that they have made it in life, what Ben Phiri did was ill-conceived for a Cabinet Minister.

It is an open secret that the place called ‘Ziboliboli’ in Blantyre is a bastion of illegal trade. It is a place where most of the illegal trade in foreign exchange takes place; it is also the central dwelling place of ruthless loan sharks and experts of underhand dealings; obviously the least place to expect a whole Cabinet Minister to sit and drink beer with alleged friends on a Sunday afternoon. On top of that,  Ben Phiri also claims to be a Christian from Cavalry Family Church, which abhors, not just drinking alcohol, but also drinking in public places.

What Minister Ben Phiri is doing is to dilute the position of Cabinet Minister and bringing the government of President Mutharika into disrepute.

This country is going through a difficult time economically; a majority of Malawians are living on less than a dollar a day, which is below the internationally recognized poverty threshold under the United Nations (UN), and for the whole Cabinet Minister to be found bingeing publicly on useless alcohol with questionable characters in town is a display of insensitivity of the highest order to the suffering of the people. Just what message is  Ben Phiri trying to send to the world? That he does not care even if other people are suffering as long as he is Cabinet Minister?

If Ben Phiri had wanted to fete his friends, he should have easily done that in private, and not publicly like he did. It only means there is something horribly wrong with his moral compass which is dangerous for a Cabinet Minister.  We have had people with funny characters who have been Cabinet Ministers in Malawi before.  Dumbo Lemani is a perfect example.  He served in the UDF government of Bakili Muluzi, and his office was in Umoyo House closer to where Ben Phiri threw his street party.

Dumbo Lemani would often descend from his office to chat with people and friends in the streets down. He would sit on benches and giggle comfortably with the people but there was no record of him throwing public street parties where people would drink alcohol relentlessly.

If the Cabinet Minister  was following in the footsteps of President Mutharika, who not long ago feted some DPP youths at Sanjika Palace, then he did it badly. President Mutharika was roundly criticized for throwing that party, and will most likely not do it again, and he did it at Sanjika Palace not in the streets.

For Ben Phiri to emulate that example and in that manner is deliberately fanning the fires of public anger that Mutharika hoped time would douse. It is not long ago when the same Ben Phiri was publicly reprimanded by the First Lady when he courted controversy after he insulted the very womanhood of former First Lady, Dr. Patricia Shanil Muluzi. Now he thinks throwing alcohol street parties with gangsters is a way of cultivating his own brand of populism.
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Stop demonstrations, Peter Mutharika orders police, Malawi Defence Force – The Times Group Malawi



By Yohane Symon:

President Peter Mutharika, in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of Malawi Defence Force (MDF), has directed MDF and Malawi Police Service to stop border and airport demonstrations which Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has organised from August 26 to 30 2019.

Mutharika made the remarks in Mangochi District Wednesday when he commissioned six warships which the government has bought for the MDF Maritime Department.

A highly charged Mutharika accused HRDC, opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM of organising the demonstrations to topple his government unlawfully.

“Without borders, there is no Malawi. Undermining our borders is undermining the very existence and sovereignty of our country,” Mutharika said. “Invading borders is the greatest threat anyone can pose to our country. I, will, therefore, have no choice but to take all measures necessary to ensure and protect the sovereignty and integrity of our nation.

“As the Commander-in-Chief, I am directing the MDF and the police to protect our borders and airports with all the necessary force to ensure that the integrity of our borders is not compromised even for a single minute.”

He also accused MCP president Lazarus Chakwera and his UTM counterpart Saulos Chilima of using HRDC to destabilise the country due to their failure to win the May 21 presidential election.

“The disruptions we are witnessing in the name of elections are not about elections, but the opposition attempt to take over a lawfully constituted government by unlawful means using the HDRC mask. This will not be allowed,” Mutharika said.

He accused Chakwera of instructing MCP members of Parliament to disturb the State of the National Address when Mutharika opened this year’s session of Parliament.

“Our Constitution does not say we will choose our leaders through anarchy and violence… Rev Chakwera, I don’t care whether you respect me or not. I don’t need your respect, but please respect the presidency,” Mutharika said.

But HRDC Chairperson Timothy Mtambo and his deputy Gift Trapence, in a statement released Wednesday, say Mutharika was being fed with lies by people who have surrounded him.

“Malawians are extremely shocked by the President’s position given that his power derives from the people and is not absolute as stipulated in the Constitution. After hiding in the cocoon for too long, Mutharika missed an opportunity today to simply announce that he has fired Jane Ansah. He instead went on the offensive, making a decree which has no basis in law. HRDC would like to remind the President that he is not above the law and that Malawi is a democratic State where the citizenry, that include the President, are subjected to the rule of law.

“We wish to remind Mutharika that his decree is not only against established human rights and good governance values and principles, but also the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi, which, under Section 38, guarantees the citizenry the right to assemble and demonstrate with others peacefully and unarmed.”

Mtambo said HRDC was not being used by politicians but it was doing what Malawians were looking for.

He said HRDC would continue with their planned airport and border shutdown to force Ansah to step down.

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