Malawi Muslims association under fire over ‘bribes’

Trouble is brewing among Muslims in Malawi following revelations that some leaders of their association in the country are cunningly enticing members to support the candidacy of President Bingu wa Mutharika’s young brother, Peter, for the 2014 presidential polls.

The development comes after some senior members of the Muslims Association of Malawi (MAM) reportedly connived with the young Mutharika, who is the presidential candidate for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), to influence the association’s allegiance to the ruling party by giving its members monetary handouts.

Young Mutharika last week dished out K50 000 to each of the 30 MAM Board of Trustees members and executive members from the Southern Region, a development that has angered Muslims in the country.

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On Friday afternoon, over 20 opinion leaders within the Muslim community in Mangochi district met at the Islamic Information Bureau offices in the district where they unanimously agreed to ‘fire’ the entire executive committee of MAM. Mangochi district is Malawi’s stronghold of the Muslims.

One influential Muslim opinion leader who attended the Friday meeting told Nyasa Times on Saturday in Mangochi, Muslims are angry with the conduct of their executive members for being money hungry instead of serving the interests of ordinary Muslims.

He said Mangochi Muslims have agreed to remove all MAM executive members and call for a fresh election which should put in place people who can work for Muslims and for their own gains.

“We were over 20 and we all agreed that the executive committee must  go or else those from us from here we will not be part of their association,” said the attendee who refused to give his name saying he was not mandated to speak on behalf of the group.

The opinion leader explained that Muslims feel betrayed with the executive for putting their interests in the fore instead of protecting the community that “has been segregated in everything since President Mutharika took over power in 2004.”

MAM chair for Mangochi chapter Sheikh Adam Imran said Muslims in the area were “not happy” with the reports of bribes.

Mutharika became Malawi’s leader after former President Bakili Muluzi, a staunch Muslim himself, handpicked him for the post. And the young Mutharika, a professor of law was recently endorsed as the DPP as its 2014 presidential candidate.

“We will not allow to be bulldozed into supporting this man. We have suffered enough under his brother’s leadership and we are not ready for more humiliation,” said the source.

MAM Board of Trustees Chairman expressed ignorance on Sunday when asked for his comments on the Friday’s Mangochi meeting.

According to informants, Peter Mutharika bribed the MAM members to support his candidature at former Minister of Transport and Public Infrastructure Sidik Mia’s residence at Kabula in Blantyre on Thursday evening, August 18.

MAM senior officials had called for an emergency executive committee meeting that took place at Cold Storage premises in Blantyre (owned by Mia) who is also MAM Board of Trustees vice chairman and treasurer general of DPP where they tricked the members to break their fasting at Kabula.

“We were surprised that upon arrival there, we found Professor Peter Mutharika at the lounge and we were advised by Mia that he wanted to interact with us,” one of the members told Nyasa Times earlier.

The new MAM executive committee was elected some five months ago amid reports that the current chairperson of the association Sheikh Dr. Idris Muhammad is President Mutharika’s ally and a staunch supporter of the ruling DPP. 

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