President Peter Mutharika has for the first time commented on the nationwide anti-government demonstrations which took place peacefull on April 27, saying the civil action groups which coordinated them wanted to make the country ungovernable.
The protestors led by civil society organisations (CSOs) delivered the petition at the gates of Capital Hill, the seat of government, not to President Mutharika or Vice-President Saulos Chilima as they had earlier demanded, but to Principal Secretary (Administration) in the Office of President and Cabinet, Cliff Chiunda.
The CSOs were against alleged Executive abuse and manipulation; high level corruption manifested in the K236 billion Cashgate, the K4 billion issue, the rejected Electoral Reforms Bills, worsening water problems, high cost of living, abuse of State media and chiefs; among others.
But in delivering his State of the Nation address at the opening of Budget session of Parliament on Friday in Lilongwe, Mutharika said the protests had political agenda, cementing what Minister of Information Nicholas Dausi said when he questioned the presence of leader of the opposition Lazarus Chakwera at the protests.
Mutharika said many people in the country do not want to distinguish politics from development.
“We are a nation that carries our politics too far to the point of destroying development,” he said.
Invoking former US president John F. Kennedy mantra of “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” the Malawi leader said: “As we ask what Government is doing, let us also ask what role each one of us is playing in developing our nation. Let us examine our responsibility.”
President Mutharika said there are people whose only dream is aspiring to destroy this country.
“For example, the recent demonstrations were planned to trigger riots which was to lead to breaking and burning of property,” he said.
“They wanted to create a state of chaos, panic and fear to make Malawi ungovernable. While we are rebuilding the economy, there are people who think of destroying it. This is unacceptable,” said Mutharika in his address.
He said while the citizenry enjoy the freedom of expression, “our political freedom must never bring disorder in this country. We want to develop this country.”
Hitting at leader of opposition without mentioning his name, Mutharika said there T are people who cannot respect the principles of governance.
“Our respect for governance must begin with our respect for this august House. We cannot be Parliamentarians who make laws in this House and go out to demonstrate against our own laws. This spirit of lawlessness cannot be accepted,” Mutharika said.
The President said while his administration is making every effort to build confidence in Malawians, there are people whose job is creating hopelessness in the people.
“There are people whose job is discouraging Malawians who want to work for their lives and for this nation. This must stop because we are destroying our own country. Destroying the self-confidence of the people is destroying the country,” he said.
“We can differ on politics, but we must agree and unite on developing this nation,” he said.
The CSOs had given President Mutharika 90 days to respond to all the 10 points in the petition.
‘Don’t politicise corruption’
In his address, Mutharika commented on alleged corruption, saying his govern,ent remains steadfast in fighting graft and continues to increase budget funding to graft busting body ACB.
“As I speak, Government is investigating a total of 1,009 cases. Out of these, 640 were completed. Of the completed cases, 143 were recommended for prosecution. Further, 3,786 corruption complaints were also handled and processed,” he informed.
Mutharika said his administration continues to promote integrity, accountability and transparency in various public and private institutions in the country through implementation of corruption prevention programs as well as capacity building for institutional integrity committees.
“Let me repeat what I have said before. I will not shield anyone who is suspected of corruption. No one is above the law. There is evidence that people in my Government can be investigated and prosecuted,” said Mutharika.
He said there is also evidence that the Malawi is containing and reducing corruption, citing international reports.
Mutharika said corruption in the country is just being politicised.
“Stop politicizing corruption and join me in fighting corruption. Stop denying corruption and join me in fighting corruption,” he said.
He called on Malawians to join hands and fight corruption which he said cannot be fought by one person.
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