Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika was already dead when government flew him to South Africa, an inquiry into his death has revealed,contradicting government and his family who said that he had died in South Africa where he was flown for treatment.
“He died on the way to the hospital and that was within minutes of his collapse before the ambulance reached hospital. The ambulance arrived at the hospital at about 11:25 am and the President was brought in dead,” said Justice Elton Singini, Chairman of the commission of inquiry.
Singini, who presented the findings to President Joyce Banda, also disclosed that the 78-year-old leader had a history of heart problems and had suffered a minor attack in 2009.
He explained that medical personnel at Kamuzu Central Hospital – one of the biggest and ill equipped public hospitals where he was rushed to – made attempts to resuscitate him but that was already too late.
“At around 2:30 pm doctors at the hospital pronounced him dead and informed the authorities of that fact… The cause of death of President Bingu wa Mutharika was irregular beating of his heart at that moment of his collapse, called cardiac arrhythmia, which resulted in him suffering a cardiac arrest,” he said.
His death was celebrated by many Malawians who blamed Mutharika personally for the economic woes, which stemmed ultimately from a diplomatic spat with former colonial power Britain a year ago.
Prominent women’s rights campaigner Joyce Banda was sworn in as Malawi’s president a few days later in a peaceful transition, becoming southern Africa’s first female head of state and raising hopes for a fresh start.
Aid-dependent Malawi had slid into economic crisis as Mutharika squabbled with major western donors who then froze millions of dollars of assistance.
But since Banda took over, all the major donors have unlocked funds and the IMF programme is back on track. However, her attempts to the right the economy by devaluing the local currency against major currencies has worsened the standard of living and made life unbearable for many.