The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has said the party will not heed calls for President Peter Mutharika to step down due to old age unless the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis leads the way.
Speaking at a rally held at Bangwe in Blantyre on Sunday, a DPP operative Hophmally Makande dismissed calls for Mutharika to step down, saying at he is younger the Pope Francis.
Mutharika will be 80 years old during next year’s general elections slated for May 21, 2019.
Speaking to the crowd, Makande queried DPP spokesperson, Nicholous Duasi, a church-going Catholic regarding the Pope’s age:
“A Dausi muli pompano, anthu akuti a Mutharika atule pansi udindo chifukwa akula, Papa ali ndi aka 10? Papa ali ndi aka 10? Papa ndi wamkulu kuposa a Mutharika ndiye ayambe ndi Papayo kutula pansi udindo wake (Mr. Dausi, ir right here, people are saying Mutharika must step down due to old age, is the Pope 10 years old? Is the Pope 10 years old? Mutharika is younger than the Pope so he will not step down unless the Pope does).”
In his speech main speaker Nankhumwa made no attempt to dispute the Makande statement.
And, earlier on Monday, in his remarks before leaving for China, Mutharika was also mute on the remarks that have clearly offended a lot of Catholic faithful incuding those in the DPP.
Commenting on his Facebook wall, Leonarcd Chimbanga, one of DPP’s most vibrant, young politicians had no kind words for Makande:“As someone born Catholic whose family is still Catholic I find these remarks horrifying, stupid, uncalled for. I am surprised no one condemned him right there and then considering that there were Catholics in attendance at the same podium.
“Religion is a line you do not cross regardless of how desperate you want to seek to appease the appointing authority. We have had similar elements in Mai #Manjankhosi who tore her rosary in full view of the masses at a rally who suggested that Cathilic Bishops had too much cabbages to call for the Life President consider changing his approach in governing this country in the early 90’s.
“It is wrong to conclude that all people supporting Chilima are Catholics and to insinuate that it’s the Catholic Bishops behind his movement is utter Nonsense.
“If you want to resuscitate your career find other means but this one is a No-go zone.Classic example of a bootlicker.”
It is not clear whether the statement will instigate a diplomatic row with Vatican but the incident comes barely a few days after the DPP government caused a diplomatic tiff with the US after the former arrested a Malawian-born US Citizen, Manice Hale of politically-motivated charges.
Following the arrest, the US immediately activated its consular response that resulted in an official demand for the Malawi government to explain why they had arrested its citizen.
A week later, the Malawi government has backed out of the Hale case, officially discontinuing the case against her,.
Makande is a recent DPP new comer from the then ruling People’s Party (PP). He made his political fortunes as a UDF operative during that party’s reign before joining the now defunct National Democratic Alliance (NDA) which was formed by another current DPP new comer, Brown Mpinganjira.