Malawian President Peter Mutharika has completed 100 days in office – a traditional moment for taking stock of progress in what rights campaigners have assessed him highlighting nepotistic and ethnicity promotion in his public appointments fuelling calls for North Malawi secession.
In evaluating Mutharika’s three months in power, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for Development of People (Cedep) on Monday urged the President to mobilise ideas and energies from all Malawians.
“Indeed, no country can realise the desired political, social and economic development if its citizens are engrossed in rivalry based on their diversity in religion, political affiliation, tribe, region or even race. “
In a statement made available to Nyasa Times, the two human rights bodies said they expected the decisions particularly in the arena of public and cabinet appointments would be informed by a well-struck balance between adherence to meritocracy and the need to unify a “split” nation of which the majority were still questioning the legitimacy of Mutharika’s ascendancy to the throne.
The two organisations noted that the cabinet let alone the public appointments by Mutharika “lacked a national face, and only managed to resuscitate fears of another potentially-nepotistic DPP era – a party whose recent past [2009-2012] was characterized with nepotism especially in public appointments.”
“It doesn’t appeal to reason let alone the nationalistic nature of the executive arm of the government to constitute only 25% of representation from Central region and Northern region with the Southern region – which ironically happens to be the region where the President hails from, and also where he got most votes- registering 75% representation amongst which the majority are from the Lomwe-belt where the President hails from,” reads part of the statement co-signed by Timothy Mtambo and Gift Trapence, executive directors for CHRR and Cedep respectively..
The rights campaigners pointed out that Mutharika failed to justify the merit in the appointments of some cabinet ministers and public officials with some who had a “bad” track record of unrelentingly opposing universally recognized rights and freedoms such as the academic freedom still found their way in APM’s “professed” merit-based cabinet.
CHRR and CEDEP said they are left with “great suspicion” that Mutharika’s maiden cabinet and public appointments “were not only informed by nepotism but also acted as a rewarding platform for the party’s loyalists as well as the geographical areas which overwhelmingly voted for him – a complete departure from its manifesto.”
Reads the report card: “It just does not add up to be preaching unity in one breath and practically pamper one tribe or region over the others.”
The rights watchdogs said they have no doubt that the recent calls for federalism by some sections of the society have, amongst several other causes, been partly ignited or fuelled by the President’s “nepotistic” decisions on the cabinet and public appointments.
“One can only appreciate this by looking at the timing when such calls resurfaced. This calls for a serious reflection on the part of the President and the entire government.”
CHRR and CEDEP urged Mutharika to go beyond preaching the message of national unity in response to secession and federalism calls to examining the root cause behind such calls and exploring viable policy alternatives and best practices his government can implement as a post-100 days agenda to enhance equitable distribution of development across the country in the best interest of all Malawians.
The two organisations said Mutharika’s appointments have been “missed opportunity” to unite a seemingly divided, bruised country coming from a controversial tripartite election.
The rights campaigners also faulted Mutharika on a “swarm” of advisors.
They noted that essentially, cabinet ministers also act as advisors to the President, “as such it makes little sense, if any, for the country’s tax-payers to be paying someone on a monthly basis for just advising the President. “
CHRR ad CEDEP said the appointment of an army of advisors by Mutharika has been “a mere appeasement exercise” to the DPP loyalists “who will add no value to the presidency other than kowtowing to the President’s tune to maintain their jobs. This sulks big time.”
Meanwhile, addressing a political rally for his DPP at Masintha ground in Lilongwe on Sunday, Mutharika said he was aware that some senior members were unhappy after being left out of his 18-man strong Cabinet and also justified his decision to announce that he will contest in 2019, saying the party was being torn apart by internal succession strife.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :