President Bingu wa Mutharika and his
predecessor Bakili Muluzi have during the last month been at each
other’s throats exchanging letters in which the President accuses his
predecessor of spreading many lies through Nyasa Times and other media
that, among other things, he is suffering from cancer.
The President, in turn writes that he knows Muluzi is a sick man.
But in reply the former president says he has since being cured of
spinal cord problems which "came about because of the gruelling
campaign of 2004 that I had undertaken on Your Excellency’s behalf"
In the letter, the President also threatens to arrest his mentor if
he continues spreading lies about his health using the media. He also
accuses UDF director of research Humphrey Mvula as the man Muluzi uses
to spread the lies.
"Dr. Muluzi I know that you very much want me dead," reads in part Mutharika’s letter to Muluzi dated October 28, 2008.
He says he does not have cancer as he (Muluzi) has been saying.
"I recently underwent a very thorough medical check-up and was given
clean bill of health. I am sure if you watch television, you will see
how fit I am. I play golf and keep all my international engagements.
Is this a sign of a person who is dying soon?" Reads the letter whose receipt Muluzi acknowledged in an interview on Tuesday.
In the letter, the President goes on to challenge the UDF leader that he has a lot of information about Muluzi’s health.
"Your health has considerably deteriorated over the past two years.
I am sure other citizens of Malawi also know about your medical
condition. For instance, I know that you yourself are a very sick man.
"I am reliably informed that you have serious deterioration of your
spinal cord and that you have pins inserted in the spinal cord to
support your back," further reads the letter.
Mutharika says he also has information that Muluzi has cancer of the
throat and that he sometimes experiences difficulties in speaking.
"I am also reliably informed that you have serious diabetes ‘A’
problem and that you cannot stay very long without eating anything or
else you will faint. In fact, I recall that at one of your rallies you
actually had to leave the podium quickly to get food and medication in
the motor home behind the platform. Your wife prompted me to continue
speaking so that people would not know what was happening," Mutharika
He alleges that at one time Muluzi had his blood drained because it was ‘contaminated’.
Continues to write Mutharika: "Now Dr. Muluzi would you really like
your medical information to be made available on the Internet and other
media? Would you not say publishing such facts would violate your
privacy and constitutional rights? If the answer is yes, why then do
you fail to realise that you are also violating my constitutional
Mutharika justifies his writing by saying Muluzi bankrolls online
publication Nyasa Times to publish false stories about Mutharika’s
health. He says doing that is criminal libel and sedition.
In conclusion, Mutharika says: "As a Head of State I have all the
options to arrest you and any of the perpetrators of these diabolic
lies. This is not a threat but a statement of fact. I am aware that if
I take such action you will scream at the top of your voice that the
whole thing is politically-motivated. But what you are writing against
me is also politically-motivated."
The President says he wants assurance from Muluzi to instruct his
cohorts to immediately stop publishing fabrications and lies about him
on Nyasa Times and other media.
But three days later, Muluzi responded to Mutharika’s letter on
October 31, 2008 where he casts doubts on the authenticity and
credibility of intelligence which the President receives.
"The allegations raised in your letter are not only false but
concocted lies fabricated for ulterior motives by dubious individuals
within the intelligence or your political system. Your Excellency, upon
assuming office in May 2004 I did advise you to exercise extreme
caution in handling of intelligence information that will be passed on
to you," says Muluzi.
The former president says in the letter he is amazed when Mutharika
attributes his negative publicity to him even when some of such is
borne from unpopular government decisions.
"Your Excellency, I think time has come when all of us should
remember that democracy does not demand blind obedience, unquestioning
discipline and acceptance of the status quo but calls upon leaders to
appreciate people’s right to understand and take active participation in matters affecting them," reads Muluzi’s letter.
He also denies controlling the media, including Nyasa Times and the independent media in general.
"…These allegations are false and I would advise you stop peddling
such allegations because they have the capacity to undermine the
credibility of your high office," Muluzi says.
Muluzi informs Mutharika that Mvula does not reside at his BCA Hill
residence and he is not employed or deployed to write and publish
articles that are critical of Mutharika.
"This is again a case of inaccurate and misleading intelligence
information….The allegations that Nyasanet and Nyasa Times are funded
by me personally are inaccurate and false. Whilst I cannot answer for
Mr. Humphrey Mvula about his alleged involvement, I however, have my
doubts and do not subscribe to the philosophy that he is the
Nyasanet/Nyasatimes mastermind," reads the letter.
Muluzi then tells Mutharika that his health has never been a subject of debate in UDF.
"…Be rest assured that I personally and the UDF as a party continue
to wish you good health. Your Excellency, if at any time my health is
not to the mark, I will be the first one to go public about it as I have
always done. I have never pretended to be such a person that cannot
fall sick nor I have hidden the state of my health," the letter reads.
Muluzi admits that he had suffered a slipped disc and this condition
came about because of the gruelling campaign that he undertook on
behalf of Mutharika.
"I am rather perturbed that you have quickly forgotten that the said
slipped disc had been as a result of my active campaigning for you in
2004. I would request you to remember and appreciate my sacrifices and
sacrifices of other UDF leaders whom you fervently tout as enemies," he says.
Muluzi also denies that his blood was drained.
"It is also not true that I have throat cancer. I am disturbed with
your claim that I suffer from category A diabetes and that I cannot
stay very long without eating food or else I will faint. Your
Excellency, your information is wrong and malicious since you well know
that this is not the case," Muluzi says.
Muluzi reminds Mutharika that he worked with him and spent long
hours during the 2004 campaign which at times saw both of them conduct
10 meetings a day without taking food.
"You are also aware that I am a devout Muslim who observes 30 days
of fasting during the Holy month of Ramadan. It smacks of sadism that
your Excellency can regurgitate information that is false and
unfounded, especially considering the fact that your Excellency have
demonstrated the rare courage of capturing this information on official
record. I find this to be a very unfortunate situation and a
demonstration of how much hate you hold against me," the letter reads.
Muluzi has reminded Mutharika that he has demonised his predecessor on MBC radio and TVM, calling him all sorts of names.
"Your Excellency, I have not forgotten my recent dehumanising and
disgraceful arrest at Kamuzu International Airport in June this year on
your trumped up treason charges. The arrest was authorised by Your
Excellency following your pronoucements at a rally in Nkhata Bay
district. I wonder if you really believe that I can plan to overthrow a
government that I helped put together...," Muluzi says.
"I have never wished you dead. Rather that you have wished me and my
colleagues in UDF dead because a lot that can be proved by hard facts
and evidence has happened during the four years," he says.
State House press officer Chikumbutso Mtumodzi yesterday confirmed
the correspondence between Mutharika and Muluzi but could not be drawn
to comment on the contents of the two letters.
"Any means of communication from the incumbent to the former
president are strictly confidential documents. However, if Muluzi has
taken the lead in exposing such correspondence that is breach of trust.
All along it was assumed that Muluzi was a level-headed and serious
individual," Mtumodzi said.
Mvula declined to comment on allegations levelled against him, saying he is yet to see the letters.