Malawi’s flagship newspaper has written a scathing editorial criticising President Peter Mutharika’s claim that leader of opposition in Parliament Lazarus Chakwera pushed a regime-change agenda through the rejected Electoral Reforms Bills.
During the groundbreaking ceremony for a five-star hotel project and business centre in Blantyre yesterday, the President took a swipe at Chakwera, who is also Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president, accusing him of using the clergy to attack his administration.
The story has dominated headlines in Malawi two daily newspapers, The Nation and Daily Times.
Mutharika described Chakwera as ‘a foul mouthed reverend’ as quoted by the papers.
He said Chakwera, who trailed him in the 2014 presidential race, was conniving with what he called misguided faith leaders to bring down his government.
Said the President drifting away from his prepared speech, : “I know it was not about electoral reforms, but to bring down by force the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] government by end December. Malawi is a peaceful country but there are people who are against this, there are people who are talking about revolting including the foul mouthed leader of opposition.
“I want to tell him that this government will continue. My government has excellent relationship with all members of the faith community. In fact, I have met more religious leaders than any President in this country. I don’t want a small group of misguided faith-based people who are the puppets of opposition parties to try to drive a wedge between me and the faith communities.”
But flagship newspaper, The Daily Times, gave Mutharika fiercest criticism. The newspaper began its editorial saying when a Head of State, who happens to be a constitutional law expert, gets thoroughly inflamed by the just calls of the citizenry, people have no choice but to realise that they are not in safe hands.
The paper said the statement by President Mutharika “do not inspire confidence”.
It said the Mutharika’s administration does not wish Malawians well.
“That is why, instead of giving Malawians a convincing reason for his government’s dilly-dallying in tabling 50 percent + 1 and other bills, he chooses to settle for the lame excuse that the opposition, led by Malawi Congress Party president Lazarus Chakwera, wanted to use the electoral bills to remove his government by December 31 this year.
“This beats reason because after rising, Parliament will only meet in another session and meeting next year— which is past December 31. Surely, the President either leaves on Mars or is fed a cocktail of lies, which does not augur well for the country because we need a president who is well-informed,” reads the comment
The newspaper urged President Mutharika to stop pointing fingers at “imaginary enemies” and accept that he, and not others, is afraid of the unknown.
The editorial finishes by saying Malawians need a president who is so confident that he can deliver what Malawians want: namely, Electoral Reforms [Amendment] Bills.
“That way, we will give our elections a semblance of credibility.”
But, Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi, the official government spokesperson, has come to the defence of Mutharika describing the editorial as “ignorant and bullying”.
He said the tone of the editorial is “deliberately offensive” and will contribute nothing to national development.
Dausi said when the opposition walked out of Parliament and called for transformative leadership meant they had a plan to bring down government.
He said: “They said they were going on the streets to reclaim their destiny, to call for a transformative leadership, what you think that means. To us it was about regime change. And who do you expect they were campaigning for?
Nonetheless, PAC chairperson the Reverend Dr Felix Chingota, whose multi-faith democracy, human rights and accountability watchdog pushed for the bills and planned nationwide demonstrations on December 13 if the pieces of legislation were not tabled, said the reforms issue has existed since 2014 and that Mutharika himself committed to support them during the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections campaign.
“PAC did not draft any bill to Parliament. If the President has issues, then he must settle those issues with his own Special Law Commission. I can see that there is confusion and division between the two.
“The same government establishes a Special Law Commission then it becomes fearful of proposals coming from its own arm of government. To me, that kind of reasoning is very strange,” said Chingota in quotes reported by The Nation .
The paper also quoted political analyst Nandini Patel, who said the Electoral reforms are for the nation as a whole “and not anybody’s personal agenda.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :