Apparent confusion emerged in the Democratic Progressive Party yesterday resulting in the withdrawal of a vague public statement in which the party tried to put into perspective allegations that the former cabinet attempted a 'coup de tat' in April this year.
In the confusion, it has also transpired that the body of the late president Mutharika was detained at Kamuzu International Airport for four hours from 6pm to 22hrs "in view of the logistics involved in the medical evacuation to South Africa".
The statement, circulated by former deputy minister of Foreign Affairs Kondwani Nankhumwa, was abruptly withdrawn by its signatory DPP Secretary General Elias Wakuda Kamanga on the basis that it was discussing matters privy to the cabinet.
"It was erroneous. As you are aware, I am Secretary General of the DPP. I have not been a member of cabinet and so I can not authoritatively speak for the cabinet. This is why the statement has been withdrawn," Kamanga told The Daily Times Thursday.
But the statement discussed events around the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika and leading to the ascension to that office by President Joyce Banda.
In the statement, the DPP acknowledges that a cabinet meeting presided over by former Energy Minister Goodal Gondwe met to discuss succession of President Mutharika in view of a matter in the Constitutional Court for which he had sought determination as to whether the vice president could succeed him considering that Mrs. Joyce Banda had been fired from the then ruling DPP.
The party alleged that Chief Secretary to the Government Bright Msaka, who was present reminded the ministers meeting that the gathering "was not a formal cabinet meeting but a consultative one" and that they needed someone to lead the meet.
"It was unanimously agreed that the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General should refer the matter to the Constitutional Court again to decide as quickly as possible on the matter and that prior to the court decision, Section 85 of the Constitution would apply.
"This implied that one of the cabinet ministers would be appointed as Acting President for the few days while waiting for the court decision to avoid power vacuum," reads part of the two page statement.
The statement is an apparent attempt to respond to President Banda's request for an account of what and how her predecessor Mutharika died.
There are reports that operators of the air ambulance hired to ferry the former president to South Africa refused to proceed upon realising that the would-have-been patient was actually dead "hence the KIA detention".
On April 6, six cabinet ministers namely; Patricia Kaliati, Henry Mussa, Jean Kalilani, Vuwa Kaunda, Nicholas Dausi and Kondwani Nankhumwa, now known as the mid-night six, held a press conference where they made public, the then cabinet's view that Joyce Banda would not succeed Mutharika if he had died.
The statement was made despite the fact that the Constitution of Malawi is so clear that in the event of the incapacitation or death of the president, the vice president would automatically take over.