I hope that by the time you are reading this article, speculation about President Peter Mutharika’s health will have come to an end following a press conference he was scheduled to hold yesterday in Lilongwe.
This is against the background of so much speculation about the President’s health these past weeks. But as far as State House is concerned, they are not aware that the President is unwell. In fact, the Minister of Information Malison Ndau made it succinctly clear the other day that the President is “enjoying robust health”. One would wish that the President is indeed well.
But all this speculation has been fueled by a void in information and some things that are not adding up following his whereabouts after the end of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 21 2016.
So the announcement by the Office of the President and Cabinet that the President would be heading home last Sunday put to rest all speculation about his alleged ill-health.
Come Sunday, the President arrived in a chartered Qatar Airways aircraft straight from New York. (On his way to New York, the President travelled on a chartered aircraft to South Africa from where he boarded a commercial plane to the US. This, the nation was told, was to cut costs).
But what necessitated the President to travel in a chartered aircraft all the way from New York after already spending the taxpayers’ money for three weeks on his so-called engagements of national importance which have been kept a secret to the nation?
Even before he left New York, State House announced that the President would on Wednesday preside over the launch of the national ID Project in Lilongwe.
Come Sunday, the president arrived as communicated. But something was amiss. As he alighted from the aircraft he waved the multitude of the people that thronged the airport with his left hand. For someone known to be right-handed, what had happened to his right hand? He proceeded to greet dignitaries, including diplomats, shaking hands with them using his left hand. What indeed had happened to his right hand? People did the needful. They zoomed their cameras on President’s right hand. Whereupon they could not help noticing a white object which some have described as a canular.
Up until this time, what was unquestionably suspect, was his none use of the right hand, a development that further fueled social media speculation that something was amiss.
Just a day before the national ID function, government announced the postponement of the function raising further speculation about his health. The UNGA ended a month ago. After jetting in on Sunday and Monday being a holiday, the expectation was that the President would hold a press conference on Tuesday. But come Tuesday State House broke the silence by announcing the President would hold a press conference about the UNGA and other issues of national importance on Friday six days after arrival exactly one month after the end of the UNGA.
Well, it has to be said that in the absence of official information, social media filled up the void. And government has itself to blame for not telling the nation what exactly is happening. Time indeed would tell. n