The United Nations General Assembly took place in New York City and ended on September 26. The Malawian President, Peter Mutharika, who had left his country on September 15 to attend the session, has not returned back to his country to date.
Malawians have, therefore, launched attempts to find their missing leader. Citizens have taken to social media to question his whereabouts using the humorous hashtag; #BringBackMutharika.
The President had been last seen by his citizens when he delivered a speech to the UN General Assembly, calling for international assistance to address hunger in his country. As the story has been cast on social media and commentators in the local press, after that speech, the President went completely missing.
Opposition politicians and activists commenting on the president’s prolonged stay in the US say that it has cost taxpayers 1.3 billion kwacha, $1.7 million, an amount the impoverished country simply cannot afford.
Despite the citizen’s persistent agitations to “bringbackMutharika,” the Malawian government would not release the president’s schedule. The government claims that he is attending high-level meetings while in the US and Mutharika’s office released a statement on October 11, promising that the president would return on Sunday, October 16 at 1pm.
Rumors regarding the President’s whereabouts have begun circulating around the country. Most of the rumors say that the 76-year-old president is receiving medical treatment in the US. One rumor actually suggested that he was admitted to New York Presbyterian hospital.
A response to the rumors was given by Mutharika’s spokesman who released a statement reminding citizens that the president “is enjoying very robust health” and anyone spreading dangerous rumors to the contrary would be “brought to book.”
Malawian’s may,however, have very good reason to worry about their president’s health. Back in 2012, President Bingu wa Mutharika, the current president’s brother, died while receiving treatment in South Africa and all through the period of his treatment and his eventual death, poor state communication gave rise to speculations and bred political uncertainty.