APM holds key for talks

July 17, 2019

It is amazing that Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice-president for the South Kondwani Nankhumwa told a rally in Ndirande he was ready to meet Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera and UTM Party leader Saulos Chilima over the political impasse gripping Malawi by the neck.

Amazing it is, since Nankhumwa’s words came just a day or two after President Peter Mutharika said he would crush protesters who feel Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chair Jane Ansah must stand down. Nothing can be more outstanding than seeing a junior officer extend an olive branch, when the commanding officer exposes a sword.

It is incredible, in what capacity Nankhumwa uttered those words, for he wears too many hats. Which is not much of a problem.

But then, while Nankhumwa was in Parliament, engaging his duties as Leader of House, DPP followers were on the street, claiming a victory parade. It is not for me to say why they were on the parade, but apparently, they found their way down to Sanjika Palace with hopes they would go past the gates, up the tree-lined drive to Kumpanda ku Sanjika. It was not to be, as APM came out of his meeting to talk to them outside the outer gates, for close to 10 minutes.

From the reports, the DPP supporters, ferried from various Southern Region points, felt a victory parade at State House meant Christmas. But that was not to be, as Mutharika had to come down and tell them they were welcome there. In sharp contrast, there were guns and rifles to keep them anywhere but near the green bars of the gates with the significant insignia to the presidential home in Blantyre where they longed for a bite and drink.

Nankhumwa was nowhere near the Sanjika Palace gates when APM said outright he was ready to crush protesters against the MEC chair.

Which is why it is so mind-blowing that Nankhumwa said at the Ndirande rally he was ready to meet Chakwera and Chilima. One at his home, the other at his office. Why Nankhumwa chose to speak against the superior APM’s ‘crushing’ order goes beyond reason.

It is not for Nankhumwa to call for Chilima and Chakwera to a round table. Not simply because he is seemingly defying APM’s no-tolerance for intolerance approach, but because the matter can well be sorted at another chamber. The hope was for a contact and dialogue affair proposed by the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) makes more sense.

Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Blantyre Thomas Msusa is leading the team of the quasi-religious grouping that wants to mediate the stand-off. It is clear that PAC has already met Chilima and Chakwera on how to resolve the hulabaloo.

The key now rests with APM. His meeting with PAC did not materialise this week as there were logistical problems on the part of PAC, if the State House mill assertion is anything to go by. And, the machinery says, the President has directed his director for religious affairs to reschedule the meeting.

Well and good. That is all one can wait for. We need contact and dialogue between the three leaders now than never before. The three have to come on the roundtable, under the mediation of an independent body, not a minister who has a stake in the gamble.

We have just seen enough destruction of public property. Enough damage has already been done and only peace, through dialogue, can save the day. That rests with APM.

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