Hitting out at Atupele Muluzi the running mate to President Peter Mutharika in the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and UDF alliance, for his remarks in which he seemed to suggest that the late Malawi Police Service Superintendent Usumani Imedi was killed during protests at Msundwe last year because he was a Muslim from Mangochi, the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) is demanding an apology from him.
Addressing a whistle-stop campaign tour in Chiradzulu last week, Atupele, who is also United Democratic Front (UDF) leader, told the gathering of his campaign trail Atupele is quoted saying: “Amai ndi a bambo, ine ndi Msilamu. Miyezi 10 yapitayo, anthu ena ku Lilongwe anapha wapolisi wina, Sergeant [Supt] Imedi. Anangofika, ali iwe ndi Msilamu waku Mangochi. Basi kumupha! Kodi inu mungafune atsogoleri omwe akuchititsa izi atenge boma? (Ladies and gentlemen, I am a Muslim. Some 10 months ago, some group of people descended on a police officer Sergeant [Supt] Imedi. They shouted you are a Muslim from Mangochi and lynched him to death. Would you trust leaders championing this to take over government?).”
Reacting to Atupele’s remarks, the influential quasi-religious grouping PAC spokesperson Bishop Gilford Matonga said it was divisive.
He said if Atupele becomes the country’s vice-president, he will be for the whole Malawi and all religious grouping and not just for Chiradzulu and Mangochi only and Moslems.
PAC spokesperson faulted what he called “cheap and dirty politics.”
The body which was formed in 1992 during the country’s political transition from one-party to multiparty democracy has demanded Atupele to make a public apology on the remarks and called for all politicians to focus on issue-based campaign.
Journalists AbdulMallick Mnella, a Muslim, also critiqued Atupele’s proclivity for throwing the Islam card to leverage his political position, saying it is getting tired and ineffective in earning him political mileage.
“If anything, it could drift him apart from part of his faith community and getting closer to soiling the name of Islam should some people choose to react to his sensitive, sensationalised and divisive remarks,” observed Sheikh Mnela .
Mnella said the killing of Imedi at Msundwe was “barbaric and regrettable”, but pointed out that his death did not come about due to his being Muslim.
He said Atupele could have raised several names of Muslims who have been murdered in the country including Issa Njauju who was killed while working for the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB), saying he was an influential Muslim, a true supporter and a benevolent faithful alongside that of Imedi, a selfless man who was martyred in pursuit of a peaceful Malawi,.
“I bet it would not be in Mr. Muluzi’s political interests to mention the two names, one after the other, in highlighting the plight of us, Muslims, living in the dangerous city of Lilongwe where our brothers have been brutally murdered over time.
“Wait a minute! Just recently, three family members [Muslims] perished in a suspected arson attack said to be political in nature in Area 22 in Lilongwe. The Tambalas – both parents and a child – from my home district, Dedza, died a painful death”
He said Atupele could not muster the courage to tell the whole story of Muslims martyred as a result of politics in Malawi.
UDF spokesperson Ken Ndanga defended Atupele ‘s actions, saying only those who took part in the killing of Imedi must be worried and are stoking anger against President Mutharika’s running mate for fronting their agents to criticise part of his speech.
“Why are they only criticising part of his speech. Look at the whole statements he made against political violence, thuggery and lawlessness. I am a Christian and I never killed anybody, why should I be worried,” said Ndanga.
He said Atupele will hold a rally on Saturday at Masintha Ground in Lilongwe which will be live on Times TV and that people can quote him correctly not by watching bits and pieces of clips on social media.
But another commentator Idriss Ali Nassah said Atupele is not a dummy , saying smart people also make stupid mistakes and that he made an error in his speech.
“He has expressed private regret and is looking at ways to publicly walk back what he said. Good for him. That, to me, is a mark of leadership and maturity,” wrote Nassah on his Facebook.
However, Nassah said the problem us the “hobgoblining” from some self-appointed cheerleaders in trying to out-do each other in the competition to show that they can defend Atupele even when he says indefensible things.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :