By Lusubilo Sichali, Nyasa Times
The former governing United Democratic Front (UDF) says it eagerly expected that President Bingu Mutharika would in his national address delivered on Sunday demonstrate empathy and sincere remorse that the people are going through serious social, economic and political challenges as a result of the President’s arrogance and policies that his government has espoused.
In a statement made available to Nyasa Times on Sunday and signed by the party’s deputy secretary general Hophmally Makande and deputy publicity secretary Ken Msonda, the UDF says it listened to Mutharika’s speech “with considerable interest and hope that finally, the response to the famous civil society list of 20 concerns affecting the people of Malawi was ready”.
“But alas, the UDF noted that the speech did not tackle the issues in the manner that serious thought-processes had ensued post-July 20 demonstration,” the statement reads, adding that the UDF has always advised President Mutharika that the key parametres of peace and unity; contact and dialogue will require that he should honestly acknowledge the harm and injury that the DPP government has caused to various stakeholders.
“The UDF has always championed the need for genuine contact and dialogue as opposed to megaphone diplomacy, which His Excellency President Bingu wa Mutharika prefers as a means of resolving the various challenges facing the people of Malawi today, including the proposed August 17 demonstrations,” says the UDF.
It says the party had expected that President Mutharika would be promoting a new relationship with the people of Malawi instead of threatening to arrest the various leaders that he believes are associated with the organization of the July 20 protests.
This is a move in the wrong direction because other than the unintended consequences of looting and breaking of property, the demonstrators were simply exercising their constitutional right in the face of a leadership that has stopped listening to voices of reason, it observes.
“The UDF expected the President to order the University Council to rescind the decision to fire the four lecturers that are at the centre of the non-teaching and non-learning at the Chancellor College,” it says.
The UDF also “categorically” denied the allegation that anyone within the civil society and opposition parties has ever considered overthrowing a legitimately constituted government.
“That is not true and the President is aware that unarmed civilians have no capacity to take over any government but have a constitutional right to demonstrate against their government where it has turned oppressive,” the statement says.
President Mutharika blamed civil society leaders and opposition parties of harbouring plans to unconstitutionally overthrow his government. He said his government was working hard to reverse the current sorry state of affairs by among others intending to send a high-level delegation “within months” to negotiate with the government of the United Kingdom to normalize bilateral relations.
Mutharika expelled the British envoy, Fergus Cochrane-Dyet in April for allegedly meddling in Malawi’s internal affairs. Britain reiterated by expelling Malawi’s envoy to London Flossie Chidyaonga and subsequently suspended bilateral aid to Malawi. Britain was the largest bilateral aid donor and Malawi’s former colonial master.
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