Hon Folks, APM admitted in an interview with BBC this week that Malawi is a divided country. True. Where he wasn’t clear is what he’ll do about it.
If I heard him well, MEC chairperson Jane Ansah is going nowhere, a clear rejection of the demand by irate Malawians who have so far held six massive nationwide demonstrations, demanding her head for presiding over what they believe to be a fraudulent May 21 presidential election.
Well, the hiring authority has spoken and the international community has heard. The question is: can MEC under beleaguered Ansah preside over elections acceptable by all parties?
The Nation on August 27 asked MEC why it’s still not holding parliamentary polls in Lilongwe South constituency following the death in April of Agnes Penemulungu, who was vying for the seat in the 2019 polls.
The answer: The prevailing political tension does not allow MEC to hold elections or by-elections.
So, if APM says Ansah must stay at MEC and the opposition which commands nearly 60 percent of the voters say Ansah must go, then it’s a stalemate, right? At whose expense? The people of Lilongwe South who will not be represented when Parliament will be scrutinising how government intends to spend their tax money in fiscal year!
Is this a problem requiring a political solution? APM told BBC if anyone wants to engage him in talks on the post-election impasse, he may consider that depending on what’s on the agenda. Smart answer, isn’t it?
But in the wake of post-election disputes which have divided the nation, crippled the economy and disenfranchised Lilongwe South constituents, among many other ills, why should the President be indifferent, expecting others to approach him with a peace agenda he can vet? Isn’t it his prime duty to get out of his comfort zone and take the lead in uniting Malawians?
APM went as far as saying any unity talks better wait until the court tussle over the May 21 2019 presidential elections is over.
Gee, really? While the election case is still going on in the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court ordered an indaba between the government side and Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) so they could find a common ground on how to contain violence and lawlessness without depriving the people of their constitutional right to hold peaceful demos.
The dialogue averted a catastrophe that was about to happen when HRDC urged people turn up for demos in large number while APM ordered the Police and the Army to prevent the demonstrations at all cost, using force if need be.
Isn’t it ironic then that APM, a politician, fails to see the urgency of an indaba meant to pacify the warring sides which have already started throwing petrol bombs at each other, preferring to wait till the court case is concluded? When will that be and should people from the opposite sides of the political divide then continue to be on each other’s throat until the court makes a ruling on the case?
It’s already more than 100 days since APM started his second term but there isn’t much, if any, to show for it, thanks to the disruptive effect of the current tense political atmosphere. Malawi, the Warm Heart of Africa, is scaring away visitors and investors alike as its people, known worldwide as peace-loving and friendly; continue hurting each other and destroying property in a senseless tit-for-tat that can only get worse if it’s not stopped.
When will the President rise to the occasion and address the nation on radio, TV and in newspapers, urging for calm and saying how his government intends to address issues raised in the petitions already submitted to him?
It seems in the eyes of APM, the two other major contenders in the 2019 presidential race—MCP’s Lazarus Chakwera and UTM’s Saulos Chilima—are bad losers who have stirred trouble because they couldn’t accept defeat with grace, hence his hope that all will be well when he is vindicated by the court.
But that is being simplistic. The multitudes who turn up across the country, eager and ready to speak to power through demonstrations come what may, are led by HRDC, a civil society organisation, not MCP, not UTM.
And don’t even assume that Malawians are so gullible that any civil society can urge people to go to the street for no good cause. The May 21 elections were the sixth Malawians have taken part in since the advent of the multiparty government in 1994. All along, losers have generally accepted defeat with grace. That’s why Malawi has always been known as a peaceful country. Why is this year different?
APM must simply accept that something is fundamentally wrong with governance style of his administration. A stitch in time saves nine. Fight corruption, Mr President, and ensure all Malawians, whether on the government or opposition side have equal opportunities and that the law applies to them all equally.
Unless all Malawians are happy in the only country they all call home, nobody will have comfort zone. Take that free advice Mr President and your second term will be a happy occasion to build a lasting legacy.