State house sources have revealed that sick President Peter Mutharika on Wednesday stayed away from University of Malawi (Unima) congregation despite invitation from the University Office indicating that he would preside over the ceremony.
Instead Vice Chancellor, John Saka, presided over the ceremony.
“University of Malawi will hold a graduation ceremony on Wednesday 10th August, 2016 which will be presided over by the Chancellor of the University of Malawi Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika. The ceremony will take place at the Great Hall, Chancellor College from 8:00 am,” reads part of the letter dated August 4, 2016 that Unima spokesperson Peter Mitunda signed on behalf of the University Registrar.
In an interview yesterday, State House Press Secretary, Mgeme Kalilani, said there was no any communication from the State House to the public on Mutharika attending the graduation ceremony in the old capital.
“So, it would be appropriate for you to go back to the university and ask them for more information on that. It is them who are better placed to clarify on the information on that letter,” Kalilani said.
The graduation comes amid protests by students against a government decision to hike university fees. However, Mutharika has slashed the fees by K50,000, a figure that is being contested by the students as being negligible.
Mitunda said the university was not taken unawares by the absence of Mutharika as they were informed that the Chancellor would be engaged in other equally pressing duties.
“As per tradition, we indeed asked him if he would be available for the ceremony and we were told in advance that he is attending to other matters. And this is not strange as the Chancellor delegates. He delegated the Vice Chancellor in time. We were supposed to retrieve those letters only that we were so busy with preparations,” Mitunda said.
” We can comfirm that the president is not fit he is bed ridden sometimes and we have decided to cancel some of the public engagements to not make him fall as he did last year.” Said state house source.