Malawi Govt changes tune on coup plot

Despite repeated claims of coup de tat on March 14 by President Bingu wa Mutharika and his cohorts being in the public domain, government has now changed tune on the issue saying nobody said so.

For about three weeks now, government has been making allegations that it has intelligence information that some Malawians were planning to topple government on March 14.

Government further claimed the coup was being facilitated by the Public Affairs Committee (PAC), a grouping of religious leaders in the country following its announcement of the two-day national conference which started on March 14 at the Limbe Cathedral.

Ntaba: Waiting for resolutions

But speaking just after the conference started off, Presidential spokesperson Hetherwick Ntaba said neither President Mutharika nor any member of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has ever spoken of the coup to take place on March 14.

“The president or any member of the DPP has never said the coup will take place on March 14. The president only hinted that among the issues on the agenda of the PAC meeting is the plot to topple the legitimate government of the DPP. And that means the issue being discussed [coup plot] can take place any day after their meeting and not on March 14,” Ntaba clarified.

He insisted that government has that information of the coup plot and call for a referendum as among issues topping the agenda of the conference.

Ntaba also said Mutharika was waiting to hear the resolutions from the conference before taking its stand.

“We will be interested with their resolutions to see what they will be like whether they will be calling for referendum or calling for the president to resign,” said Ntaba.

But PAC has insisted the conference has no sinister motive as claimed by government but its aim is only to allow Malawians express themselves and find solutions to the economic and political challenges.

And indeed as first day of the conference came to an end on Wednesday evening, the 100 plus delegates never discussed anything to do with coup or pulling down the government save for sober presentations and discussions.

Among the presenters for the day included University of Malawi (Chancellor College) political lecture Dr Blessings Chinsinga, renowned economist and former minister Prof Mathews Chikaonda who attacked government on the issue of devaluation of the Kwacha saying the currency has already devalued itself.

Opening the conference, PAC Chairperson Bishop James Tengatenga of the Anglican Church Southern Malawi said it was now time for Malawians to find solutions and act accordingly because the crisis has been discussed enough in the media and other avenues.

“This crisis has been discussed enough in the media by various leaders and now is the time for solutions and action. We would like to hear and document specific resolutions and strategies. We need them now, in fact, yesterday! Should we not come up with anything, we will have ourselves to blame for the worsening situation,” Bishop Tengatenga told the gathering.

Former central bank chief Prof. Mathews Chikaonda, currently heading Malawi’s largest conglomerate – Press Corporation Limited, dissed President Mutharika’s entrenched opposition to the devaluation of the Malawi currency, the kwacha.

“We have no choice but to devalue the kwacha,” he said.

University of Malawi activist who fought for academic freedom, Dr. Jesse Kabwila-Kapasula, said “Malawians are tired with the arrogance of this government.”

During the first day of the conference which was attended by high level officials from most opposition parties, clergy and the civil society organisations went on peacefully as promised by the organisers, there were no government or ruling party representatives.

But Police issued a statement alleging that it has information that the organisers of the conference – plan to incite Malawians to hold anti-government street demonstrations, an allegation the quasi-religious grouping has dismissed as untrue.

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