I have ‘eradicated’ Aids in Malawi, DPP popular – Bingu

Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika on Thursday claimed he has done great things in the country during his seven years in power including “eradicating HIV/Aids”, saying his government and ruling DPP is getting more popular.

Mutharika said in a speech in Blantyre, the commercial capital, that civil society leaders were derailing his development programmes by organising nationwide protests against his administrations.

“I have taken this country from the poor position it was to the stellar position it now occupies,” he said.

“I have eradicated hunger in this country. I have eradicated the AIDS pandemic.  I have built roads, hospitals and school,” Mutharika touted himself to the cheering DPP supporters.

But health experts say Malawi cannot hope to achieve its new HIV/AIDS targets without significant international support, due to poor relationship between the government of Malawi and its key international donors, including the U.S. and the U.K., which recently suspended some of their funding because of Mutharika’s dictatorship.

Mutharika: I have eradicated Aid pandemic in Malawi

Malawi faces many challenges in the HIV/Aids fight, particularly related to how the country will finance the new anti-retroviral treatment (ART) drugs for life and what type of counselling and social support will be provided to the women who are being placed on ART.

Mutharika also quashed critics who say his government and ruling DPP are losing support, saying to the contrary the party and government are gaining ground and popularity.

“There are some people who, when drunk, say that DPP is no more, the government is no more so by coming in such large numbers you have demonstrated that what they are saying is nonsense,” said the foul-mouthed Mutharika.

“The Democratic Progressive Party is growing from strength to strength and the Government remains strong as ever,” he added.

Mutharika then warned of a crackdown against critics.

“Don’t mistake the Government’s silence for ineptitude. All those insolent people I can arrest them if I so wish,” he said.

“I want you to know that just because somebody outside [this country] says so I cannot arrest you. I can arrest you! Let this country go on fire if you want to,” Mutharika said.

In his style of attacking media houses, Mutharika this time around singled out The Nation newspaper.

“And I want you . . . Nation Publications, if the Nation Publications team is here, go and tell them that ‘Bingu is threatening you’ and I’m threatening them! Yes!” he charged.

In the July 20 anti-government demonstration, police used lethal force on account of Mutharika’s ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy, killing at least 18 people d in a country that bills itself the “Warm Heart of Africa”.

Analysts say Mutharika’s speech did not help matters as the mood on the street is equally unforgiving, suggesting further confrontation is almost inevitable in a country that prides itself on its peace-loving populace.

Observers say if Mutharika pursues the kind of violence and crackdowns on civil society and his critics, it will put international support at risk.

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