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Monday, July 15, 2024

Who authorised the flight the VP took?-Asks Law Professor Danwood Chirwa

Some advice to the government of Malawi: this country has not experienced a tragedy of this magnitude before. We must not accept and normalize tragedies of this sort.

They are avoidable. What we badly need at this dark hour is the truth – it will help us heal and join hands in unity.

Otherwise, we leave the door open to conspiratorial and divisive talk. We also need accountability and transparency. Those who took reckless decisions or failed to take action must be held fully accountable.

Here are the matters about which the public deserves to be told the truth:

1.Who decided that Ralph Kasambara should receive a state funeral? Although we, the people of Nkhata Bay, appreciated that act of generosity, it didn’t close our eyes to the illegality that tainted the whole event. This decision made everyone complicit in breaking the law. The proper procedure would have been to grant a pardon first and then declare the state funeral. That illegality led to the tragedy that cost the country nine other innocent lives. We still need the pardon, otherwise, everyone remains complicit in that illegality.

2. Who authorized the flight the VP took? Knowing the weather was as bad as is being made out, the plane was questionable – who are the people who made that decision? They must reveal the discussion that took place, the factors they considered, and who made the final call. What was the contingency plan, if there was any? And why did it not work?

3. When did the MDF know the plane had failed to land, what measures did it take to assist the pilots to get the plane to safety? When did it know that the plane had crashed? What measures did it take to rescue those on board? Why was no call center created for the public to provide relevant information on the missing plane and to assist the search party?

4.When was the President and the government informed that the plane had failed to land? What measures did the President take to track the plane and assist the pilots? Where and when did the President establish his command center during the tragedy as it was unfolding? What operation did he order as commander-in-chief? When? Was a crisis committee of the sort created for the funeral put in place when the tragedy was unfolding? Who was in it? What did it do?

5.The minister of information says the police are investigating the incident – what information does he have so far that suggests a crime was committed for the police to investigate? What we know is that when a plane crashes like this, an international team of experts are asked to investigate. That must be done soonest.

No one believes the Malawi Police or MDF have the capacity to investigate plane crashes. Where and when did they gain such experience? Who are the investigators, so we know them? Who is leading them?

    Whatever you know about these questions, please share the whole truth and nothing but the truth. As for what you don’t know, we need a credible, independent, and competent public inquiry. Urgently.

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