‘Don’t burn Malawi, no demo please’ -Bingu

By Collins Mtika, NyasaTimes

Embattled Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika, known for his fiery temperament when talking about opposition political parties and Civil Society groups, on Tuesday made a passionate plea to them and Malawians in general saying “don’t burn Malawi please. Malawi is a small country.”

“I am ready to talk to them. If they don’t know where I can be found tell them. I don’t live in the streets. Did you see a President living in the streets? How ignorant can you be?” Mutharika queried.

Mutharika said this during a meeting attended by less than 100 women and the infamous ruling DPP Youth Cadets clad in the party regalia at Chibavi market in northern city of Mzuzu.

He was also scheduled to hold another meeting at Zolozolo Township but the meeting was cancelled at the eleventh hour after people failed to turn up.

Mutharika: Do not hold demonstrations

Earlier Mutharika toured shops and houses that were burnt and looted during the July 20th anti-government demonstrations.

Mutharika then made an indirect response to some of the concerns that were raised in the July 20th petition.

“Fuel is now available and we also have a programme to construct two huge tanks in Mzuzu to cater for the northern region. One is for petrol and one for diesel. They should store not less than 30 million litres. We have already started mobilising resources for this project,” he said.

Mutharika then blamed the proliferation of vehicles and heavy equipment for exacerbating the fuel scarcity.

However, he did not say when the project is starting and who is financing it and at what cost but challenged opposition parties and Civil Society groups if they have such programmes for Malawi.

“If they have a better programme let them tell me,” he challenged.

On forex, Mutharika was vague saying “we have started a programme so that forex will be available in this country.”

On electricity, Mutharika said the problem is generation and not distribution “but we also have many industries”

Mutharika also announced the establishment of an Independent Commission of Inquiry that is going to probe perpetrators of the July 20th demonstrations.

“I have already contacted UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to send us a representative, the same with the SADC and AU Chairpersons. I want this inquiry to find out the truth so that we know who was responsible so that justice prevail in this country,” he said.

Mutharika also announced the establishment of the Presidential Contact and Dialogue Group, which he said will have Experts and Technocrats and will be tasked with solving every issue or concerns raised by anyone, group or organisation in Malawi.

The President also urged people in Mzuzu not to participate in the scheduled August 17th demonstrations.

“Tell the organisers that enough is enough. Are you going to accept that people, your children die on the 17th? Do not accept so that you could be shot,” Mutharika said.

Paradoxically, Mutharika blamed the chaos and loss of lives that occurred on July 20th on CONGOMA, Vice President Joyce Banda, Rafik Hajat,  rights activist Undule Mwakasungula and opposition leader  John Tembo, saying they did not heed his calls for dialogue.

“From April to June I have been asking these people to come and talk me and not demonstrate in the streets. I told that them that when you demonstrate the result is looting and possible loss of lives but they refused. It all on record,” he claimed.

He said had discussions taken place those people could not have died.

“Their spirits are now crying, why did we die? These people received money because of the demonstrations and some went abroad to deposit their money,” Mutharika claimed.

Mutharika also said these people even refused to attend a public lecture he organised, which he claims 1,500 people attended.

“That is where I wanted to clarify problems or issues affecting Malawi. I am unhappy with demonstrations but it’s their constitutional right. They should have done peaceful demonstrations and not loot PTC shops and torch DPP offices among other things,” he said.

Speaking earlier DPP vice President Goodall Gondwe said the  government condoled the families that lost their loved ones during the July 20th demonstrations “but we avoided pomp and publicity.”

Gondwe then challenged those organising the August 17 demonstrations saying “we will see each other there. Boma ndi Boma.

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