Former president Peter Mutharika yesterday co-addressed a rally at Njamba Freedom Park in Blantyre where his sentiments fell short of his party’s promised apology to Malawians and instead dwelled on criticising his successor Lazarus Chakwera.
In the build-up to the rally last Thursday, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regional governor (South) Charles Mchacha said the party lost the court-sanctioned Fresh Presidential Election on June 23 2020 because it did not listen to Malawians, as such, they would use the rally to
offer an apology.
But Mchacha himself, who was one of the speakers, yesterday also went to town on Chakwera and the nine political-party Tonse Alliance administration, calling for the resignation of the President on the basis that he has failed to lead Malawians.
Taking his turn, Mutharika challenged Chakwera to demonstrate leadership by resolving the deteriorating socio-economic status.
He said it is the responsibility of the government to cushion and protect its citizens, but Chakwera’s administration was failing to act.
Mutharika said: “Start governing the country, there is nothing you are doing. Start fulfilling the promises you made during the campaign period. Otherwise, I don’t think you are fit to rule this country. You need to step down.
“I can send my boys to help you. My former ministers can come to show you how to run the country.”
He said the country is running on autopilot and that it needs leadership that will provide direction for the betterment of everybody.
Mutharika also accused Chakwera of being tribalistic. Ironically, during his six-year tenure, he was also accused of favouring people from his ethnic Lhomwe tribe in top public sector positions.
While condemning numerous arrests of people from his former governing party, he said Tonse Alliance administration must stop destroying democracy as Malawians are not ready to go back to the one-party era under the Malawi Congress Party (MCP).
Mutharika also called on religious leaders to condemn the current government’s shortfalls as Malawians continue being subjected to serious challenges which they did not anticipate.
Apart from that, he also asked members of his party to unite to rebuild the party and prepare for the 2025 general elections.
Two weeks ago, Mutharika met six of his party’s aspiring presidential candidates in a move that earned him praise from critics, including former president Bakili Muluzi.
The presidential aspirants he met were Leader of Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa, former Reserve Bank of Malawi governor Dalitso Kabambe, former minister of Finance Joseph Mwanamvekha, former minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Bright Msaka, prophet David Mbewe and businessperson Paul Gadama.
Five of the aspirants were present during the rally yesterday. Mutharika said Nankhumwa had excused himself from the meeting to attend to other issues.
In his earlier address, United Democratic Front (UDF) president Atupele Muluzi, who was running mate to Mutharika in an election they were trounced by a pair of Chakwera and Vice-President Saulos Chilima, said Malawians need to know the direction the country is heading on the basis that there is a lack of leadership.
He said there is nothing that the Tonse Alliance can point to as achievement except for the misery they are subjecting Malawians to.
Muluzi said Chakwera should resign from his position as he has failed to lead Malawians.
“Mr President [Chakwera], I know you are a good man but you have not kept your promise. Our people are not looking for too much. They just want you to fulfil the promises that you made,” he said.
He also appealed to both members of the DPP and UDF to unite towards 2025.
When contacted on the sentiments, both acting presidential press secretary Anthony Kasunda and Minister of Information Gospel Kazako, who is also the official government spokesperson, referred the matter to MCP spokesperson the Reverend Maurice Munthali.
Munthali said demands that Chakwera must resign are being made out of ignorance.
He said: “Those calling for the resignation of the President are doing so out of malice if it is not gross ignorance of where Malawi has come from, where we are today and where we need to be as a nation.
“Memories are still fresh of how Mutharika dismally failed to govern this country as president. From where we stand, Malawi is taking time to heal economically, socially and otherwise because the DPP-led government shamelessly and selfishly stole from the public purse.”
Munthali further stressed that those calling for Chakwera’s resignation know that Malawi is a better nation and that we are heading towards a Malawi to be enjoyed and appreciated by everybody.
Lately, there have been cracks in the former governing party after its secretary-general Grezelder Jeffrey in August 2020 told The Nation that Mutharika had done his part and that the party needed a new person to lead it into the future, calling for an early convention.
Later, the party fired Nankhumwa, Jeffrey, treasurer-general Jappie Mhango and Mulanje West legislator Yusuf Nthenda for allegedly influencing the rejection of Mutharika’s appointee, Francis Kasaila, as Leader of Opposition in Parliament.
Mutharika took over leadership of the DPP after the death of his brother, Bingu wa Mutharika in April 2012, propelling the party to victory in the 2014 Tripartite Elections. n