Mutharika regime still in control despite coup claims

The much-anticipated March 14 came and passed. Today, Thursday, is March 15 and Nyasa Times snap checks in the streets and townships of the country’s two major cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe have shown it is business as usual.

March 14 was the day government and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), led by President Bingu wa Mutharika, have been heralding as the day the country’s opposition parties and civil society organisations would stage a coup de tat.

Mutharika’s fears and suspicions came after a grouping of religious leaders in the country, Public Affairs Committee (PAC), announced it was organizing a two-day national conference in Blantyre.

Mutharika: Still in control

PAC had insisted that its March 14-15 conference had nothing to do with the regime change but it was meant to discuss and analyse the political and economic challenges the country is facing.

But despite the conference amplifying the repeated fears and suspicions within the ranks and files of government and the DPP, Mutharika is still in power and enjoying the comfy life at State House.

Mutharika’s cowardice was evident on both days (Wednesday and Thursday) when he deployed to the venue of the meeting and into the streets hundreds of ant-riot police, general duties officers and CIDs to counter would-be demonstrators and listen to people’s conversations.

Mutharika’s spokesperson Hetherwick Ntaba insisted as the PAC conference entered the second day, the president could not have spoken publicly about the planned coup if he did not have reliable intelligence information.

“The president would not have said that in public if there was no truth or evidence in the information he has,” said Ntaba.

On Wednesday, the presidential spokesperson refuted that Mutharika had said the coup would take place on March 14 clarifying that “the president only said that among the issues PAC delegates would discuss is the regime change, call for referendum or forcing him to resign, he never said the coup would be staged on March 14.”

The failure of the alleged coup has, however, vindicated the organisers of the conference, opposition parties and the donor community who were also accused of funding the meetings where the issue of coup was being discussed, that the gathering had no sinister motives.

The two-day meeting started Wednesday morning at Limbe Catholic Cathedral in Blantyre despite high-level threats from Mutharika’s regime.

On Monday, government effectively stopped management of Sunbird Mount Soche Hotel to cancel bookings of the meeting from taking place there but failed totally to force the Roman Catholic Church to block the meeting at their premises.

Opening the meeting, PAC Chairperson Bishop James Tengatenga justified the theme of the conference, “Time to reclaim our destiny- Seeking redress to political and economic redress”, saying the word reclaim did not mean staging a coup but rearranging the deranged.

Two major presentations on the country’s political and economic situation were made on Wednesday by University of Malawi (Chancellor College) Political analyst Dr Blessing Chinsinga and Malawi’s renowned economist and former minister of finance Professor Matthews Chikaonda respectively.

Another Chancellor College based law expert Dr Edge Kanyongolo gave his presentation on the gaps the Malawi Constitution has and other issues.

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