President Peter Mutharika is yet to return home from New York, United States of America (USA) where he attended the 72nd United Nations General Assembly (Unga) despite the world leaders’ meet officially ending on Monday.
However, government officials have remained tight-lipped on when the President will return home.
While most leaders, including presidents of neighbouring Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa are back at their bases, authorities yesterday could not say when Mutharika will precisely arrive home.
The developments have prompted a political analyst to observe that Malawians have for long tolerated the culture of authorities concealing the President’s trips to Unga.
Mutharika left the country for New York on September 15 with a reported 19-member delegation for the Unga held from September 19 to 25.
Most leaders left for their homes immediately after they addressed the general assembly last week. Mutharika made his address last week Wednesday on September 20.
Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi and Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Emmanuel Fabiano yesterday were elusive on the issue of Mutharika’s return.
Said Dausi: “He is finalising other meetings and will be coming home very soon, but the OPC [Office of the President and Cabinet] will issue an official announcement on the President’s itinerary.”
And in a telephone interview from New York, Fabiano said he already explained before departure that besides Unga, Mutharika would also be attending many other multilateral and bilateral meetings taking place before, during and after the General Assembly.
“So, the delegation does not only come here for the general assembly, it comes here for many different meetings,” he said but could not give a rundown of the purported meetings.
Chief Secretary to OPC Lloyd Muhara did not pick up his phone after several attempts, but government sources confided in The Nation that Mutharika is set to depart New York this Saturday and arrive home on Sunday.
But commenting on government’s silence, University of Malawi’s (Unima) Chancellor College political scientist Ernest Thindwa observed that Malawians have for long tolerated the culture of authorities concealing the President’s trips to Unga.
He said: “Holders of public offices do not want to be held accountable, the President is staying in US on the expense of a tax payer and when government is appealing to everybody to tighten the belt because the economic situation is not all that good we would expect them to be in the forefront in terms of ensuring that they are indeed living to their words.
“The President’s long stay in US is very expensive not many Presidents would stay for more than three days or so soon after the UN General Assembly they would go back to their countries.”
Speaking to journalists in Lilongwe before departing for New York, Mutharika said he was expected to make at least 12 statements with the First Lady Gertrude Mutharika also taking part in other several side event meetings.
During the 71st session of UNGA last year, Mutharika’s itinerary was also shrouded in secrecy after he took nearly a month since the general assembly ended to return home. n