Demonstrations deliberately misunderstood

Recently, President Peter Mutharika was interviewed on Al Jazeera television by James Bays. The interview covered various issues, including his winning the May 21 2019 elections and his leadership. 

When asked about the ongoing demonstrations after the election which people claim to have been fraudulent, the President said it was the opposition parties, especially Malawi Congress Part (MCP) and Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) who are leading the nationwide demonstrations.

He further said that it is unfortunate that the demonstrations are destroying the economy of the country. On this, one can argue that the economy of the country is already destroyed by corruption which his government has no clue on how it can be stopped. Furthermore, it is due to the mismanagement by his government. About the demonstrations, he casually stated that they must be stopped. This is easier said than done.

Meanwhile, the main demonstrations organised by HRDC zero in on Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson and other commissioners to resign after the widely believed fraudulent elections.

Malawian voters are bitter about their stolen votes. Before the President says the demonstrations must stop, he must understand and accept the genesis of the demonstrations. It is undeniable that due to the suffering Malawians have gone through, during the first-term of Mutharika’s rule, it was/is right and proper that people had to look for a change in leadership and government. It was believed that the majority of voters voted for an opposition leader. 

Naturally, most Malawians were shocked and in total disbelief that Mutharika had won a second-term.  The shock comes about when people think that they are back to joblessness, nepotism, corruption, bribery and direct stealing of taxpayers’ money. 

In short, the economy will continue dwindling as long as converting taxpayers’ money into personal fortunes by powers that be will still be the order of the day. This is painful as people face a hopeless future.  All this had triggered anger which has led to the demonstrations. In the same vein, there are all manner of demonstrations in schools, colleges and other institutions.

Meanwhile, the President and his government must not take demonstrations as business as usual.  People are dying and valuable property is being lost. The country is literally on fire as everything is falling apart.

The government should not just waste time apportioning blame on opposition parties and HRDC on demonstrations, instead of finding solutions.  In fact, blaming the two groups makes no sense. Any sensible person should know that the bitterness that most Malawians have is enough for anyone to demonstrate, even without HRDC. In fact, the President should be aware that not all voters belong to a political party.  But they want change in leadership. In this case they do not wait for directive from anyone to demonstrate. Their suffering is enough catalyst for holding demonstrations.

It is unfortunate that demos have caused deaths and injury in certain situations. Probably things might have not reached this level if the President and his government had been listening to people’s concerns.  In this case then even the police would have toned down in the use of teargas and live bullets.  Instead, they should have been perfecting on professional crowd control.

Honestly speaking, since its attaining independence Malawi has never experienced this level of hostilities.  Malawi is no longer as peaceful and one can only say never again should Malawians go through such governance.  It is this level of poor governance which is to blame for demonstrations.

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