Mutharika’s missed opportunity to unify Malawi

The past weeks have been quite tense and trying. The peaceful Malawi that many have come to know for many years, has been characterised by post-elections protests that in a way threaten to shake and break the foundation of peace.

It has been so trying that even those declared winners have had no time to celebrate because electoral protests have taken the centre-stage and threaten to paralyse public service delivery.

MCP supporters have been picketing at Capital Hill in Lilongwe, especially at the City Centre, in a bid to force President Peter Mutharika to step down. The MCP supporters strongly believe that Mutharika stole the election.

In a typical Mutharika style, the President remained silent for a good part of all this. However, on Thursday he spoke to the nation. The expectation was high, but as usual, he disappointed.

His message was more of a personal attack on his archrival Lazarus Chakwera and the MCP. The tone of Mutharika’s message was again ore of a threat than message of offering hope or encouraging co-existence. In short, Mutharika missed an opportunity to unify the country.

From the look of things, Chakwera has rallied his troops and he is not backing down. His press briefing a week ago, was a call for ‘war’, though he didn’t explicitly say so but one could easily read that if there is anyone who was going to ask the protesters to stop picketing, Chakwera was not the person to do that.

With tempers flaring, Mutharika, the President, should have been the bigger person to send messages that calm the tempers. But, instead, he was fanning the flaring tempers.

The national address should have focused on rallying all Malawians, regardless of who they voted for, to unite. This is no time for campaign period sort of talk. Those days are long gone. This is no time for political leaders to flex their muscles to show who has bigger muscles. This is the time to sound bells of peace.

This country stands to lose a lot if political leaders allow their personal egos to obscure their sense of judgement. This is a delicate moment whereby political leaders need to guard and be sensitive to what they say to their supporters. Violence has to be condemned in strongest terms.

Being aggrieved is not a justification for indulging in violence and disturbing peace. There are peaceful ways of resolving disputes and that’s exactly what, both the MCP and UTM leaders, have done—take the matters to court.

All we all can do is wait for the court outcome in peace, without disrupting crucial public service delivery.

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