Since President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the May 21 tripartite elections, the opposition, particularly the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and more recently the UTM Party, have been up in arms. They are disputing the election, claiming it was rigged; they have even gone to the courts to seek redress and are asking the courts to nullify the results.
They have not just ended there, MCP supporters have in particular been very vocal and unruly; they have been behaving like wild dogs and have taken the law into their own hands. With urging from their President, Dr Lazarus Chakwera, MCP supporters have been staging some rampage demonstrations mostly in the central region part of Malawi to express their dissatisfaction with the elections.
They have looted other people’s shops and damaged property worth hundreds of millions of Kwacha belonging to government and innocent individuals, and they still look like they don’t care; they have beaten supporters of other political parties particularly the DPP; they even chased people from the southern region of the country from their homes for suspecting them to be DPP because in their minds everyone from the southern region is DPP.
The MCP supporters even took to the headquarters of government in Malawi – the Capital Hill – apparently to chase and flush out all civil servants who are reporting for work so that they must not ‘work for Peter Mutharika’s government.’
In their wisdom, the MCP supporters still think it was Chakwera who won the elections and are doing everything in their means to destabilize and topple the duly elected DPP government.
Ironically, the supporters are doing all these things; behaving like hysterical rabbits whilst the election case is in court. They are like the double-faced Janus with two faces: one face very legal and following the due process of the law whilst the other face illegal and wild, doing everything possible to break the very law the other face is trying to adhere to.
However, the Peter Mutharika government has remained admirably cool, calm and collective under the circumstances. Examples abound of how the same context of politics played out within the SADC region in not so distant past. The late Morgan Tsvangirai was constantly in and out of the hospital for his so many countless battles with Zimbabwean Police under Robert Mugabe.
Tsvangirai can easily go down in history as perhaps the most beaten opposition leader in this part of Africa in a country that calls itself a democracy.
His successor, Nelson Chamisa has also not been spared the vent of government even under a different President. Just after the elections last year, Chamisa was furiously clobbered by security forces when he tried to take a flight at Harare International Airport for a trip outside the country.
In Zambia opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema can also goes down in history as one of the most arrested individuals in the country’s history for showing signs of insubordination and for instigating lawlessness against an elected government. At one point Hakainde Hichilema was clobbered by security forces fornot giving way to a presidential convoy to pass, apparently because he did not recognize the President of that country as an elected individual.
In Malawi, however, the government of President Mutharika has remained calm under the circumstances, despite the blatant provocation and lawlessness that is being displayed by opposition leaders and their supporters. There has not been any arrest or beating of opposition leaders, and they are all enjoying the comforts of their homes.
In fact, Chakwera has been allowed to be sworn in as Member of Parliament (MP), and he is free to issue his less thoughtful orders for his supporters to be violent from the comfort of his home. There cannot be any mark of democracy more than that, and Malawi can easily go down as the most democratic country in the SADC region.
The other mistake that the opposition are also making is to take Mutharika’s calmness under the circumstances as a sign of weakness. This is clearly wrong. This is a President who has just won an election; he is Commander-in-Chief of the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) and has all the government apparatus under his control. He is capable of making a decision to make the world more painful for opposition leaders and their supporters if he wants to, but has simply chosen not to because he is a tolerant individual who believes in democracy.
This is, however, not a sign of weakness; in fact it is a sign of strength.
As a leader, President Mutharika understands that the true mark of a democracy is not about having democratic institutions but ensuring that the institutions actually work in the promotion of the rule of law.
He is a constitutional lawyer and he is very aware that there are cases in court and that adequate space must be created to allow the court process to flow and make a determination. That’s perhaps the only reason he has exercised restraint against the errant opposition leaders and their supporters. A true democrat President Mutharika is.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :