The Civil and Political Space Platform (CSP Platform) is a loose network of governance and human rights faith-based organizations (FBOs) that are supported and coordinated by Dan Church Aid (DCA) Malawi. The membership of the Platform includes: CCAP Church and Society Programmes of Livingstonia, Nkhoma and Blantyre; Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) (Chikwawa, Dedza, Lilongwe and Mzuzu Karonga Dioceses); Christian Service Committee (CSC); Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM); Public Affairs Committee (PAC); Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR); Women’s Legal Resources Centre (WOLREC): Maziko Radio; and Association of Progressive Women (APW).
With one voice, the Platform would like to express its disappointment and disapproval of the scathing remarks made by President Arthur Peter Mutharika at Masintha Ground in Lilongwe on September 7, 2014, with regard to the involvement of Justice Elton Singini, former Solicitor General and Attorney General, Anthony Kamanga, and former Malawi Defence Force (MDF) Commander, General Henry Odillo, in the Commission of Inquiry following the death of former President Bingu wa Mutharika.
In his speech, the President intimated that the treason charges levelled against him and others were “a concoction and total rubbish…” and that there were influenced by tribal origins of the parties involved in the Commission of Inquiry. The Platform considers such statements unfortunate and, therefore, seeks to urge the President to exercise statesmanship and caution in whatever he communicates to the people of Malawi.
One should not be deemed bias or guilty merely because they originate from the same village as another. Such speculative thoughts are divisive and can only be construed as fear mongering as they easily provoke distrust and conflict between political parties, tribes and regions in the country. This is particularly unacceptable coming from the nation’s elected leader, who is rather expected to embrace tolerance and peace building.
The Platform would like to remind the leadership that the Commission of Inquiry was appointed in June 2012 with the mandate of establishing the death of State President, the late Bingu wa Mutharika, and the events surrounding the political transition up to the swearing in of his successor. The majority of Malawians were not aware when President Bingu wa Mutharika died after suffering cardiac arrest. Neither were they aware of the events surrounding his death nor the succession intrigues that had ensued, which stunned them and the world at large. If only the announcement of the death did not take 48 hours, may be the Commission of Inquiry would not have been constituted and the 124 people would not have testified before it.
The Platform is also aware that the mentioned people were professional public officers and they were duly appointed in those positions by the then leadership. Here is a list of a fully constituted Commission that served on the issues under discussion:
- Justice Elton Singini, SC, (retired)
- Dr Charles Dzamalala
- Dr Tionge Loga
- Mr Joseph Elywn Aironi
- Dr Elizabeth Sibale
- Father Joseph Mpinganjira
- Mrs Esther Chioko
- Mr Pachalo Kayira
- Mr Brian Nyasulu
- Mr Jabbar Alide
From the foregoing, it is naïve of President Arthur Peter Mutharika to insinuate that the Commission’s conclusions were on the basis of the tribal origins of the parties involved in the Commission. Furthermore, the Platform condemns the calling of former MDF Commander, General Odillo “a cheat” as being slanderous and defamatory. The claim made by President Mutharika implies that the former MDF Commander misrepresented the facts during his course of his employment. This is a very serious accusation in the light of the exemplary reputation and professionalism of the MDF throughout its history.
It is our wish and prayer that MDF remains spared from all political machinations; and continues to aim at serving the interests of the Republic of Malawi and its people as was clearly manifested during the political transition. The Platform thus demands that any claims made by President Mutharika regarding the treason charges be brought forth and substantiated in a court of law if the people of Malawi are to accept them as being truth and continue trusting our Head of State.
The Platform further reminds the President that leadership is about being in a position of responsibility. It is about service to the people and being a servant of the people as provided in Section 12 (i) (ii) (iii) of the Malawi Republican Constitution.
The Platform thereby calls upon all Malawians to demand their right to a leader who displays the following qualities:
a) Is legitimate, i.e. someone who is elected through the correct avenues and who is expected to be accountable and responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people;
b) Promote justice, i.e. someone who ensures that justice always prevails. Thus, unfair distribution of public resources, including infrastructural projects, should not be tolerated under any circumstances;
c) Promotes integrity, i.e. someone who is honest and adheres to strong moral principles. Malawians need a leader who can cleanse the country of widespread corruption, moral turpitude, intellectual delinquency and moral decay, which are all, inter alia, cumulative symptoms of greed and avarice;
d) Is visionary, i.e. someone who is insightful and able to perceive the needs of Malawians. The country’s leader needs to outline a 2050 vision that can assist in tackling issues of ignorance, disease and abject poverty;
e) Exercise financial prudence, i.e. someone who can manage and administer the country’s resources prudently. Politics of patronage and nepotism should be avoided;
f) Is a role model, i.e. someone that promotes and respects the rights of ALL Malawians, irrespective of their geographical region of origin, ethnicity, tribe, religion; as well as influencing good behaviour amongst both the youth and adult population;
g) Promotes dialogue, diversity and unity of purpose, i.e. a leader who believes that the Malawi citizenry is a collection of people from diverse tribal, religious, ethnic and racial backgrounds; and varied view points as well. It is, therefore, this diversity that the country needs a uniting leader who can bring everyone to dialogue for the development of this country.
Further to these qualities, a leader should promote inclusiveness, accountability, and reconciliation. The Platform expects the elected leadership of the country to manage and administer the country’s limited resources in a manner that stamps out corruption and eventually brings an end to poverty in Malawi, whilst promoting human dignity and respect for human rights. Fear mongering, divisive and fallacious statements coming from an elected leader should not be accepted.
Besides, leaders should not dwell on the past successes but should rather aim to fulfill new ideas. They should be able to inspire others and build self-confidence, fight helplessness and anxiety among citizens, overcome fear, and initiate productive life-oriented actions. The Platform thus expects and demands a leader to be able to shine a new light and provide a foundation for a brighter future for the people of Malawi.
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