Former Lilongwe City South East legislator Agnes Penemulungu, who was the last person to meet president Bingu wa Mutharika before his collapse at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe in April 2012, has died.
Penemulungu, who in June 2013 resigned from the then governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which technically became an opposition party and declared herself independent, was parliamentary candidate for UTM Party in Lilongwe South Constituency at the time of her death.
In an interview, UTM Party secretary general Patricia Kaliati yesterday confirmed the death of Penemulungu.
She said her death has come as a shock as the party did not receive any communication that she was sick. She said Penemulungu visited UTM Party headquarters in Lilongwe last Thursday and looked in good health.
Kaliati said: “It is very rare for people to come and join the party at its early stages but she [Penemulungu] was one of those who did so. She was a risk taker, hard worker and a committed member of the party. She went flat out and helped in selling the party’s ideologies and she was so committed in serving people.”
Penemulungu made headlines following Bingu’s death on April 5 2012 as she was reported to be the last person to officially interact with the president before his collapse.
According to a report of the Commission of Inquiry into Circumstances on the Death of Bingu wa Mutharika and the Political Transition Following his Death, Penemulungu said in her testimony that Mutharika had collapsed barely 10 minutes into their scheduled meeting.
The report quotes Penemulungu as having said that as she looked for her prepared notes, she noticed Mutharika’s body was still and motionless with his hands and legs stretched and head leaning against the backrest of his chair.
Upon noticing the situation, Penemulungu told the commission that he shouted towards Mutharika before running to call the presidential aide de camp (ADC).
“Bwana, bwana! Ndikuona kuti sakundiyankha. Bwana! Ndinakuwa tsopano, sakundiyankha. Ndiye ndinayimirira kuthamangira kumene ndatulukira ku chitseko cha ADC [I shouted boss! I saw he was not responding so that’s when I run out to call the ADC],” said Penemulungu in her testimony to the commission while demonstrating his posture.
In the testimony, Penemulungu said the ADC, Major Cyprian Kondowe, came in and found Mutharika in such a state.
Besides meeting Penemulungu, Bingu had several other appointments on the day with several Cabinet members and heads of government agencies and parastatals.