One of Malawi’s leading human rights non-governmental organization Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) has advised President Prof. Peter Mutharika to tread carefully on Thoko Banda saga after he told BBC that he has turned down the job of ambassador to Zimbabwe because he was opposed to dictatorship.
Banda was initially earmarked to be Malawi’s envoy to Belgium and the European Union, but was switched to head to Harare.
He, however, embarrassed President Mutharika during the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme when he said Mutharika never consulted him on the Zimbabwe posting.
Banda claimed he has snubbed the Zimbabwe switch, saying he is not “somebody to send to a place like Zimbabwe, where they have a leader who wants you to endorse whatever he does with impunity.”
But government has said the President had already planned to bar Banda from his assigned diplomatic mission to Zimbabwe even if he did not pull out himself.
Minister of foreign Affairs George Chaponda told the state-owned Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) television during Monday evening news cast that President Mutharika had already planned to bar Thoko Banda from representing Lilongwe in Harare where he was expected to be an ambassador.
But CHRR boss Timothy Mtambo said in a statement thta by contemplating or deciding to drop Thoko Banda solely based on his 2006 remarks, President Mutharika may be ” indirectly communicating to the public that he admires President Mugabe’s style of leadership to the extent that any critical voice to dictatorial Mugabe has no place in his government.”
He adds: “This may eventually create the impression that the current DPP is not truly reformed but rather the same old DPP – which idolised Mugabe big time- characterized by several human rights violations. We therefore advise President Mutharika to exercise struck a reasonable balance between diplomatic obligations and adherence to and protection of human rights for all. Respect and adherence to human rights should never be sacrificed at the altar of ‘fake’ diplomacy”
In 2006, Banda reportedly called Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe “an idiot” and that he is a “horrible man.”
According to Chaponda, Mutharika appointed Banda for the post because he was not aware of the remarks Banda had made against Mugabe.
Banda told the BBC he would no longer use these words but said is opposed to Zimbabwe dictatorship.
Meanwhile, Nyasa Times understands that Zimbabwe government had also turned down Banda and in a diplomatic cable, asked Malawi to send a diplomat and “not a charlatan.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :