By Peter Kanjere:
Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) President, Overstone Kondowe, has accused President Peter Mutharika of discriminating against people with albinism but State House has dismissed the accusations.
Kondowe accused Mutharika of being indifferent to families of persons with albinism who are attacked and murdered, yet he was quick to assist those who were injured and families of the four people who died in a road accident on John Chilembwe Day in Chiradzulu District while travelling from Mulanje District.
“Discrimination at its best. Victims deserve to be helped equally. What’s so special with Mulanje PIM accident victims to be given financial assistance from government under the directive of APM [Arthur Peter Mutharika] while we have several families in Malawi who lost their loved ones due to ritual attacks?
“We have lost 23 lives of persons with albinism in Malawi since 2014, where the State President kept quiet. I am not saying it is wrong to help but, when it comes to that, there should be no discrimination based on colour or disability. Persons with albinism who were butchered were neiher dogs nor foreigners. They are also Malawians who pay taxes and deserve the same treatment as their friends from Mulanje,” Kondowe said.
After the accident, Mutharika ordered his government officials to assist with the burial of the four.
The accident happened two weeks after thugs murdered a 54-year-old person with albinism, Yasin Phiri, on the night of December 31 2018 in Nkhata Bay District.
Some suspects were arrested in connection with the murder which hinges on superstitious beliefs that body parts of persons with albinism are charms for one to get rich.
Mutharika condemned the latest murder of Phiri and urged stiff punishment, including life imprisonment, for those convicted of murdering persons with albinism.
In reaction, State House spokesperson, Mgeme Kalilani, on Sunday dismissed Kondowe’s accusations, saying the government has helped families of persons with albinism who were attacked by constructing houses for them.
“The chair may wish to crosscheck this fact with the Ministry of Lands and Housing. And, recently in Liwonde, the President personally pleaded with the Judiciary to consider handing stiff penalties, including life sentences, to convicts involved in targeting, abducting or murder of persons with albinism. This goes to show how deeply concerned the President is with this challenge.
“It is unfortunate that some opinion leaders are choosing to be sensational on this issue. Both the victims and perpetrators of crimes targeting people with albinism stay within the communities, they are members of our churches, they pray with us, some suspects work in our churches. We need to join hands and pull in one direction to stop this crime. Politicising the problem or making careless statements will not help anybody,” Kalilani said.