Malawi’s ruling PP SG under fire over one-party remarks

Malawi’s political and human rights activists have told governing People’s Party (PP) Secretary General, Henry Chibwana, to either withdraw his “ill-fated” remarks or resign from his position for bringing disrepute to President Joyce Banda’s party. 

Chibwana said in Lilongwe on Monday it was his party’s wish to see the country going back to a one-party state because it was not appropriate for the country to have a hoard of opposition political parties which are there just for the sake of opposing whatever government was doing, a statement that has stirred a hornets’ nest.

He claimed in its one-year rule the PP had achieved a lot and going back to one party state would not be a big issue.

But renowned Malawian human rights activist and theologian, Billy Mayaya, has cautioned Chibwana against his “careless” statements,  saying such remarks “reflect the retrogressive inner workings on the governing party”, which has been in power for just about 15 months.

Chibwana: Nothing wrong to have one party state provided it is delivering
Chibwana: Nothing wrong to have one party state provided it is delivering

He said the comments by Chibwana to suggest that as long as the Peoples Party was delivering there was nothing with it becoming the only party was both infantile and wishful thinking.

“If indeed the PP is delivering that in itself does not give it the right to become despotic. Democracy is the path that the citizens of Malawi chose in 1994 after the dismal failure of one party dictatorship,” observed Mayaya.

Mayaya noted that Malawi was becoming incrementally pluralistic as a nation which “entails agreeing to disagree on policy and practices based on one’s political biases” without the fear of repercussions.

He then called on the ruling party to either retract his sentiments or Chibwana to resign from his position.

“Chibwana must retract these unfortunate remarks or else resign because as civil society we will construe them as having been endorsed by the rank and file of the People’s Party,” he said.

Corroborating Mayaya was another renowned political analyst, Dr Mustafa Hussein, who described Chibwana’s remarks as dangerous that must not be encouraged in a democratic state.

“My only word is that of caution, asking the Peoples Party Secretary General to be cautious with his speeches because some of these statements could be misinterpreted or people may build a mountain out of a mound,” said Hussein of University of Malawi.

The political analyst further schooled the learned Chibwana that whether his party had achieved something or not, it is about a system of government Malawians decided.

“It is not a question of whether somebody has achieved so much or not, it is a system that people choose in 1993 and it is up to them to decide whether a party should continue or not,” he explained.

Political parties have also condemned PP secretary general for the remarks.

Former ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) said “it is unthinkable for any political organization to insinuate or suggest a one party state in Malawi.”

UDF spokesman Ken Ndanda said: “For a very long time Malawians were subjected to atrocities of varied magnitudes during the one party state and reverting to that system is the last thing any reasonable politician would suggest.The UDF party is particularly concerned that the statement is coming from a no lesser personality than the whole Secretary General of a governing party which is unfortunate.

“This statement in our view reveals the plot by the Peoples Party to kill our hard earned democracy in Malawi.”

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) which ruled the country for 31 years under one party dictatorship, described the statement as a “shock.”

MCP administrate secretary Portipher Chidaya said: “ It is shocking to note that after the country fought hard to attain multi-party democracy, there could be some politicians within a revert to one-party state.”

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leader in parliament Dr George Chaponda said the statement “clearly shows the thinking and style of politics PP would like to follow.”

Chaponda said “we are not surprised because we have already seen an appetitie by this administration to kill multi-party democracy.”

People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) spokesman Redson Munlo called the statement “unacceptable”.

The country adopted the multiparty system of government after 63 percent of Malawians voted yes in the 1993 referendum ending a 31-year rule of MCP dictatorial rule that that saw massive human rights abuses that included mysterious deaths of several politicians.

However, Chibwana said he has no apologies to make on his statement, saying “it is possible the whole Malawi can turn into orange.”

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