Bingu describes Gwanda 'thug’, ‘greedy’ – WikiLeaks

Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika told donors that he was keen in putting in cage veteran politician Gwanda Chakuamba and described him as a “thug”, according to leaked documents published on WikiLeaks.

The WikiLeaks cable obtained by Nyasa Times shows that Mutharika told the donor community after his election in 2004 as Head of State that he intended to enhance security in the country by increasing the government’s support to the police and the military and “went off-script to skewer opposition candidate Gwanda Chakuamba, who has filed a court petition to have the results of the election declared null and void.”

Mutharika pointed out that Chakuamba also contested the national elections in 1994 and 1999 and incited his supporters to cause disturbances.

The WikiLeaks cable quote Mutharika as telling donors about Chakuamba: “The man is a thug, pure and simple.”

Chakumba: Thug and greedy, according to Mutharika

Mutharika, according to the cable, added (three times) that if disturbances continued, he would lock Chakuamba up, insisting that his protests were not political “the man is greedy and crazy”, he vowed he “will not tolerate disturbance of the peace in this country.”

Chakuamba, a former powerful minister in the government of Malawi’s founding President Kamuzu Banda,  was an influential leader of the opposition since 1994 when Malawi held its first democratic elections in 30 years and briefly served as agriculture minister during Mutharika’s first term.

He was also charged for calling Mutharika “ a brute.” And was convicted for inciting acts of violence against the Lhomwe tribe in the country. Chakuamba  uttered words ordering the beating up of all Lhomwes in Malawi in November 2008, but was not given custodial sentence owing to his advanced age.

The whistle blowing website said Mutharika convened heads of mission from donor countries and agencies in Lilongwe for a two-hour meeting on May 27, 2004 during which he outlined his plans to move Malawi from “poverty to prosperity.”

It says while the bulk of the meeting was spent paraphrasing the inauguration speech he delivered three days earlier, he deviated from the script long enough to divulge plans to dramatically reduce the size of the cabinet; that he favours state subsidies in the agriculture sector; that he intends to establish a new university; that he will jail Chakuamba if he continues to cause problems; and that he wants the support of international donors to deal with Malawi’s crushing domestic debt burden.

He has also told donors not to believe stories that the Catholics and Presbyterians had opposed his candidacy. Insisting that only a few individuals were the instigators of anti-UDF sentiment in the churches, he claimed that religious leaders were now making known their support of him.

“ While almost everything Mutharika said in two hours was measured, soothing, well-reasoned, and designed to enlist the good will of donors, his discourse was punctuated by some jarring comments,” reads the cable.

Since November last year, WikiLeaks has controversially released a string of classified documents.

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