Tribal war disguised as battle for governance, economic issues?

Some observers say the current political stand-off is between two tribes, northern region based Tumbukas in civil society organisations (CSO) and the southern region Lhomwe tribe dominating government positions.

The civil society is dominated by northerners with its spokesman for the September 21 planned demonstration being Voice Mhone. Other outspoken activists are Undule Mwakasungura, Benedicto Kondowe and Rev Levi Nyondo of the Livingstonia Synod of the CCAP in the North.

However, activists deny that its northerners are dominating the watchdogs, saying there other non northerners like Dorothy Ngoma, Rafiq Hajat and John Kapito in the fight for their catch phrase ‘good governance’.

Journalist and renowned commentator, Mzati Nkolokosa, argued on his blog recently that at the surface, it is political and economic issues but deep under the waters, it is a fight between one tribe and another.

“We have a tribe or a unity of tribes from the North fighting the Lhomwe and other tribes from the South,”Nkolokosa argued.

Mhone: Spokesman of the civil society , is it tribal war?

He noted that it has become clear that “this is a war of tribes, disguised as a war over governance and economic issues.”

“Or consider the people behind the demonstrations. At the forefront is a person from the North. The team behind him is largely from the North, and of course, some collaborators from the South. This is where we need an explanation. If this is a tribal war, how do we explain the involvement of those from the South or Central region?” Nkolokosa writes.

He further pointed out that those running the Malawi Diaspora Forum; “a movement that is collaborating with Britain to bring Malawi on her knees” are largely from the North. The Forum however disputed this claim.

“If you still don’t believe this thesis, go to Facebook, sample and analyse comments by people with names from the North and see what they say about this administration. Want more evidence? Get the two dailies in Malawi, The Nation and The Daily Times and see the stories, the writers and the sources. The most angry stories on this administration are by journalists whose original homes are the North and they quote sources whose origin is the North, largely so,” Nkolokosa who works for state broadcaster MBC argues.

While, it is observed that it is a tribal war, President Mutharika has also be squarely blamed  for his lack of communication skills with his hate speeches  against the opposition, donors, civil society and Malawians at large.

According to communication specialist Levi Zeleza Manda, who lectures at the University of Malawi’s Polytechnic, Mutharika is unable to articulate his vision for the nation because he mixes serious national development business with “cheap” politics.

“For instance, during the recently ended 8th Agricultural Trade Fair, he started with threatening war and taunting Bishop Zuza for his homily. Typically, this, rather than the trade fair, whose theme resonated with what he has been asking farmers and manufacturers in Malawi to do, became news. Instead of writing about how much value-adding to agricultural produce was displayed at the fair, local newspapers, radio stations, with the expected exception of the MBC of course, and international media concentrated on the threat of war,” Manda told The Nation.

He said the DPP spokesperson is forced to interpret the President’s speeches and utterances “because the President does not frame his good ideas well.”

According to Manda, President Mutharika’s biggest strength is that he is very well-informed, knowledgeable and read.

He said Mutharika’s biggest weaknesses are twofold: “he is unable to clearly and convincingly express himself and he, apparently, undermines his local audience. The gaffes he makes are a result of lack of timing, contextualisation and appreciation of his audience’s intelligence.”

Manda said he feels Mutharika regrets his reference to war in his speech during the opening of the 8th Agricultural Trade Fair.

“It was in bad taste. I was very sad to hear a popularly elected President make such utterances. Wage war against his own people? As I have said, the President must be regretting it now.

“Colonel [Muammar] Gaddafi must be regretting having said that he would kill anybody who opposed him. Analysts have suggested that had Gaddafi not uttered such irresponsible remarks, NATO would not have come in and he, Gaddafi, like Assad of Syria, would still have been in power today. Well, I guess his [Mutharika] threats must be ignored because I don’t think he meant what he said,” Manda said.

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