President Peter Mutharika has warned his deputy Saulos Chilima, former first lady Callista Mutharika and other United Transformation Movement (UTM) gurus against attacking him, threatening, if they continue: “I am going to break a tonne of bricks on your heads.”
Speaking on Saturday on arrival in Mzuzu, Mutharika said Chilima and his team, specifically the former first lady, the movement’s secretary general Patricia Kaliati and national chairperson Noel Masangwi have been attacking him during UTM rallies.
He warned to deal with Chilima and his team using Section Four of the Protected Flag, Emblems And Names Act, which provides penalties for anyone who does any act or utters any words or publishes or utters any writing calculated to or liable to insult, ridicule or to show disrespect to or with reference to the President.
“I hear that last week these movement [UTM] people came here and spoke very disrespectful things about me. But I want to warn Chilima, Masangwi, Kaliati and Callista Chapola. I want to warn you, don’t push me around. You better stop what you are doing.
“There are laws in this country about how you describe a President. If you will not stop, I am going to break on your heads a tonne of bricks, and I mean it,” he said amid cheers from DPP supporters.
The visibly angry Mutharika said he had heard that during the launch of UTM at Njamba in Blantyre on July 29 2018, Callista called him mtchona [someone who has lived abroad for a long time].
He then spent time talking about his in-law, saying she does not have any moral standing—in relation to how she behaved during Bingu’s sudden illness, and subsequent death—to make such utterances.
The President said the UTM team has pushed him too far, and he has now drawn the lines, further warning them never to insult him during the launch of the movement in Mangochi ‘if they do not want to see the kind of person that he really is’.
Chilima’s spokesperson Pilirani Phiri said UTM leaders were better placed to comment on the matter.
Both Kaliati and UTM spokesperson Joseph Chidanti-Malunga, in separate interviews on Saturday, said members of the movement do not speak about Mutharika during their rallies.
Said Kaliati: “Had it been that we were attacking him, I would have commented, but I think maybe our names are misplaced because we don’t attack him.”
While Masangwi could not be reached on his mobile phone, the former first lady demanded questions be sent through WhatsApp to which she responded: “I cannot comment, except to say that mtchona ndi mtchona basi, and I have no respect for people who lie. For all I know, the late Bingu was a very happy man.”
During the launch of UTM in Mzuzu last Saturday, Chilima pleaded with the electorate to register and vote en-masse in next year’s elections, warning that failure to remove the DPP from power spells doom for the country.
He said the party continues to rob the country of its taxes, through corruption, theft and fraud; hence the need to remove it from power so that a new era with respect for the rule of law and financial prudence dawns.
“Let us not wait a little longer. We need to act now. Let us use our constitutional right to vote these thieves out. Our vote is like a gun, and let us use it to deal with these thieves,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chancellor College-based political analyst Ernest Thindwa has said Mutharika’s outbursts indicate just how much pressure the DPP has to neutralise UTM’s popularity.
“The President now starting to mention Chilima does, in my view, reflect the kind of pressure or threat the UTM is posing to DPP. I think the DPP and the President himself realise that they have some work to do to contain UTM’s rise in popularity,” he said.