Malawi’s ruling People’s Party (PP) secretary general Henry Chibwana on Monday disowned as personal and not reflecting the position of the party threats by its Central Province governor Kizito Ngwembe to dismiss civil servants deemed affiliated to opposition parties.
In his speech during a rally to commemorate Malawi President Joyce Banda’s one year in office at Masintha ground in Lilongwe on Sunday, Ngwembe said some civil servants and officials in the Judiciary were being “ungrateful and abuse the freedom given by the current government” by sympathising with the opposition.
He threatened that if Banda would not move to fire the concerned civil servants, he would lead PP officials to Capital Hill to kick out civil servants allegedly supporting opposition parties.
Said Ngwembe: “Even in heaven, God expelled Satan. So, why should you [the President] spare them? Right here, among the PP youth and other departments [of the party], we have people who are qualified enough to work in the Judiciary or at Capital Hill!”
Ngwembe’s utterances, which were not condemned by senior PP officials who spoke at the rally, including the President, sent shivers down the spines of civil servants, with the Civil Service Trade Union (CSTU) leadership expressing concerns about safety and job security for government employees.
In an interview on Monday, Chibwana confirmed that Ngwembe made such a statement during the rally, but was quick to say that the statement should be looked at as a personal view that people should not be afraid of.
Said Chibwana: “If what was said is true [that civil servants are engaging in partisan politics], it means that it has to be investigated to establish the authenticity of such a statement before any action is made against any civil servant. We have to really establish who is obstructing what; as such, people need not fear.”
Chibwana agreed that such statements were not in line with democracy.
But in an interview on Monday, Ngwembe stood by his remarks, saying what he said was a fact.
“Those who are in doubt and want evidence they can find me, I can reveal who these people are. There are indeed people who are working against this government and that is my position and the position of the party in the Central Region,” said Ngwembe, who once served as member of Parliament for Kasungu South East under the Malawi Congress Party (MCP).
And in an earlier interview, CSTU president Elia Kamphinda Banda said Ngwembe’s statement will likely instil fear among civil servants and affect their productivity.
He said: “The problem is that politicians forget that civil servants have no political colours and as such they are responsible for the implementation of all government policies regardless of which party is in control.”
Ironically, Chibwana, during the President’s rally in Mangochi two weeks ago, also made a statement calling on the Inspector General of Police to arrest all politicians who will be found using a convoy.
The call was later followed by the detention of DPP interim president Peter Mutharika in Ntchisi on accusation that he was using an overhead flashlight on one of his security vehicles.
High Court judge Ivy Kamanga, who granted bail to treason suspects, including Mutharika, recently went into hiding after getting threats from alleged PP supporters over her handling of the case.