Leaders of opposition parties in Malawi on Thursday addressed a joint press conference in the commercial capital, Blantyre, where they admonished President Bingu wa Mutharika and his DPP regime over various governance lapses.
The leaders, who included NRP president Gwanda Chakuamba, PPM leader and business magnet Mark Katsonga, MAFUNDE leader and Balaka legislator George Nnesa, CODE President and renowned human rights lawyer Ralph Kasambara, UDF officials Humphrey Mvula, Sam Mpasu, Hophmally Makande, Ziliro Chibambo, People’s Party leaders Brown Mpinganjira and Wallace Chawawa, among others, expressed “disappointment over the careless and callous fear-mongering talk” by Mutharika and some ministers through claims of a coup plot by unnamed people.
“These claims are very serious and should never at any time be carelessly claimed by politicians on a public podium as they go very far in creating national security instability in a country that has enjoyed peace and tranquillity for many decades.
“President Mutharika must be cautious when attaching such claims to civil society leaders, whose only weapon is advocacy and holding any government accountable,” said Katsonga, who read a statement on behalf of the leaders.
Katsonga said they can “only but guess” that these “loose and cheap coup pronouncements” are aimed at deflecting people’s attention from real issues affecting their lives, besides being a harbinger of a political vilification campaign against perceived political adversaries.
He advised the Mutharika to invest his energies in finding quick and permanent solutions to the many problems that are choking Malawians.
Katsonga said they listened “in awe and total disbelief” the speech by the President at the official opening of the Malowa-Goliati-Chiperoni Road in Thyolo where he called upon members of his party to physically attack his perceived enemies.
He recalled that in March, 2011, when a similar call was made by Mutharika, the country witnessed several ugly scenes including the burning down of a house and an office, both belonging to human rights activists and a house belonging to an opposition leader.
Katsonga also said DPP Youth Cadets brandished Panga knives “in full view of the police in the streets of Blantyre” and that the July 20 nation-wide demonstrations where 20 people died at the hands of the police; the death of a Polytechnic student activist, Robert Chasowa and continuing rumours of assassins on the loose, among other sad developments, were as a result of the President’s instigative remarks.
He warned that leaders of the opposition would hold Mutharika responsible “should anything untoward happen to any leader and member of the opposition, leaders of the civil society, academia, faith leaders, media practitioners and indeed any Malawian”.
World Bank talks
The leaders said they welcomed to Malawi the World Bank delegation that arrived at the start of the week to discuss another five-year Country Assistance Strategy, which would assist the country recover from macro-economic doldrums that it has found itself in.
“The leaders are optimistic that the discussions between the World Bank delegation and government shall be successful and fruitful for the benefit of the suffering Malawians, who are presently undergoing serious social and economic woes,” Katsonga said.
He urged government that, as part of the recovery process, it must not politicize the economy by adopting economic policies that have been tried and tested before in countries like Zimbabwe, Zambia and elsewhere but have not worked.
“These tested and tried economic policies have led to serious challenges to the economies and the general livelihood of the people of these countries,” he observed.
The leaders observed that since independence, the donors have continued to play a significant role in the social and economic upliftment of the people of Malawi and that the country cannot do well economically without the support of these donors.
The leaders, said Katsonga, were therefore concerned that Mutharika “continues to castigate donors and Malawi’s cooperating partners at public meetings without regard to the serious repercussions such conduct could have on the ordinary Malawians”.
They said they do not subscribe to the “denigrating remarks” by Mutharika against donors and requested the donors to disregard the “careless remarks” and continue supporting Malawi.
In conclusion, Katsonga expressed their commitment towards “working for the common good of Mother Malawi in a selfless spirit”.
He pledged that the opposition would continue to provide the checks and balances to the government; suggest solutions that would extricate Malawians from the current social, economic and political quagmire despite the hostile political environment under the DPP regime “where life and property are under threat”.
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