The decision by firebrand human rights activist Timothy Mtambo to join frontline politics through a political movement and endorsing the electoral alliance between Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM Party has triggered sharp reactions from political parties and commentators.
Mtambo told a news conference on Wednesday that Citizens for Transformation (CFT)-People Power Movement, will assist MCP and UTM Party and their alliance partners to unseat President Peter Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the fresh presidential election tentatively set for July 2 2020.
Governance expert and commentator Makhumbo Munthali said while Mtambo’s timing to leave the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) which he led, could be questionable, his political interests could not be advanced while working in the civil society; hence, considers the move as not surprising.
“Certainly, some would question the timing such a decision has been made and the leadership vacuum it creates in the HRDC,” Munthali said.
He defended Mtambo’s decision, saying that the civil society space does not require one to take sides.
“Looking at the position he has taken I am of the view that such a position cannot be ably advanced within the Civil Society cycle. He seems to be determined to take the struggle he started while at HRDC further by clearly showing the citizens who they should vote for and whom they should not vote for,” Munthali told Nyasa Times.
He said Mtambo being someone who has clearly experienced “DPP regime impunity in full throttle” it’s not surprising to see him taking a political crusade advising the country not to vote for DPP.
“Fortunately, that’s the position shared by the majority of Malawians who feel short-changed by DPP rule. Time Will vindicate him as to whether that was a right decision or not.
“You can’t be in the Civil Society and tell the public don’t vote or vote for a particular candidate. What Mtambo has done is the honourable thing to leave the civil society space and get to another one where he would be comfortable to take the struggle further by mobilising the country precisely not to vote for DPP. And I believe such a decision must be respected,” said Munthali.
But Minister of Homeland Security Nicholas Dausi, who is also DPP publicity secretary, argued that Mtambo was a politician who was hiding in HRDC mask and that he is repositioning for a ‘thank you’ from MCP “which will give him the Office of the Second Vice-President.”
Added Dausi: “We are happy now to face each other on the political ground other than what he was doing masquerading as human rights activist when he was a politician.”
On his part, Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communications Technology Mark Botomani also said Mtambo has been a politician disguised as an activist for a long time.
“We are aware that the MCP has promised Mtambo the second vice presidency. The formation of Citizens for Transformation is a condition for the second vice presidency in addition to organizing violent demonstrations,” said Botomani.
He then claimed that the post-election protests which Mtambo organised through HRDC led to the radicalization of young men in Lilongwe and denied small scale businesspersons a living as they could not do business on days of demonstrations.
United Democratic Front (UDF) director of publicity Ken Ndanga in his reaction to Mtambo joining frontline politics advised him that the terrain in the field has never been smooth and that he will survive if he is not looking for immediate rewards.
“Whether the timing is wrong or not is not for me to say. Whether you are a proxy of some established political groupings or not is not something I can say on authority. Whether you overate yourself or not like I have read somewhere could just be an opinion,” said Ndanga.
Ndanga, known for political slurs during political rallies, advised Mtambo that “militant approach to politics is only exciting but does not normally win votes.”
On his part, MCP Publicity Secretary Rev. Maurice Munthali said Mtambo’s endorsement of the UTM-MCP alliance is a morale booster.
“With such endorsements, victory is guaranteed in the forthcoming fresh election,” Munthali said.
UTM Party national campaign director Lucius Banda saluted Mtambo for his unrelenting and vigilant efforts to liberate the country.
Mtambo has been leading a series of protests that at times turned ugly to push for Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah and her fellow commissioners to resign for allegedly mismanaging the May 21 2019 presidential election.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :