Opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera has challenged President Peter Mutharika to put an end to killings and abductions of persons with albinism in the country.
He was speaking in Lilongwe yesterday when he addressed the press following the abduction of a boy with albinism Goodson Makanjira, 14, of Mphanyama Village, Traditional Authority Chilikumwendo in Dedza.
Chakwera, who recently resigned as Leader of Opposition in Parliament to pave the way for his presidential candidature, said Mutharika has Executive powers to end this barbaric practice but is “sleeping on the job and being a coward”.
Said the MCP leader: “I only have three words for the President; Do your job! Stop being a coward and do your job. If you do not end these murders and abductions, you will leave a legacy that will haunt you for the rest of your life.”
Chakwera dared that once voted into power, he will end the abductions and killings within a month.
Since November 2014, the number of reported crimes against people with albinism in Malawi has risen to 152, including 25 murders and more than 10 people missing, according to Association of People with Albinism (Apam).
Chakwera said it is sad that the killings are continuing despite government launching the National Action Plan (NAP) last year to protect those living with albinism.
“I will keep fighting for the rights of our friends. My advice to the President is to act now, use his powers and don’t be afraid of the buyers, because I know they are there,” he said.
But State House press secretary Mgeme Kalilani in an interview described Chakwera’s remarks as a threat to the rule of law and warned him against using the plight of people with albinism for political mileage.
Kalilani said the President, like any Malawian, is concerned with the killings and abductions of people with albinism.
He said: “APM, as leader of this country, is equally concerned about the albino killings and he has been calling upon Malawians to join hands and end this barbaric crime. Politicising the problem, as Chakwera is doing, is not a solution neither is his proposal to the President.”
Mutharika has on several occasions condemned the atrocities against people with albinism, urging police to catch the perpetrators and let them rot in jail.
Since 2014, an unprecedented wave of abductions and killings of people with albinism have occurred in the country.
Just this year, three abductions have occurred, with one confirmed killing of Yasin Phiri of Nkhata Bay on New Year’s Eve.
A 2018 Amnesty International (AI) report observes that the rate at which cases are concluded in Malawi is slow compared to other crime investigations.
People with albinism are targeted for their body parts in the belief that they contain magical powers. The current population of people with albinism in Malawi is estimated at around 10 000.