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African Statesmanship: Malawian Opposition Leader Addresses Media

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BY THE PRESIDENT OF MALAWI CONGRESS PARTY, & LEADER OF OPPOSITION, RT. HON. DR. LAZARUS CHAKWERA, MP.

I am compelled to do so because I am convinced that I will be failing in my duty as President of the Malawi Congress Party and Leader of the Opposition if I remained quiet and did not comment on them

Vandalism at Lumbadzi Police Station

Following hot on the heels of the unfortunate statements by the Secretary General of DPP was the blatant vandalism committed by the Head of State at Lumbadzi Police station.In my earlier statement when I commented on the statements made by the Secretary General of the DPP in Mzuzu I said that if the DPP cannot separate party and state then talk of reforms is an insult to all Malawians.

A police station or police cell is a state institution. Police stations are not party property. It is an abuse of the office of President for the President in full DPP regalia to visit and write on a wall of a police cell.We teach our children that writing on walls is bad manners, how can we continue to tell them that, if the president goes about committing acts of vandalism. If the DPP has issues with the arrest and incarceration of President Mutharika then they should bring an action against whosover they think was wrongfully responsible for the arrest.

If an example were needed late Nelson Mandela President of South Africa spent a good part of 27years in a cell at Robben Island, he never abused his office by writing on the wall of his cell when he became President.

I demand that the President and the DPP must do the honorable thing of repainting the Police cell at Lumbadzi and restoring it to its former neutral colours. Whilst they are at it, they might as well just repaint the whole Lumbadzi police station and the Police officers’ houses as a gesture of goodwill.

Security

It is sad that as I speak the security situation in the country has deteriorated to levels we have never seen before. Malawians no longer have a sense of safety and security even in their homes.

We have seen people brutally murdered in their own homes. Banks robbed in broad day light.

Carjackings in our cities and highways are now commonplace. What is even more terrifying are stories that some elements within the police are aiding and abating crime and even participating in crime. The police are supposed to be custodians of internal security and if they are involved in these heinous activities, where will citizens run to for protection?

I urge the newly confirmed Inspector General to urgently attend to the issues of security of people and property in the country.

We are also saddened with the spate of attacks and killings of people with albinism. This is unfortunate, and we condemn this in the strongest terms. Government should handle with urgency, tighten security and punish the culprits to the fullest.

Governance

Many Malawians feel that their government regards the security and prosperity of some citizens more highly than others. Or that their government values the development of some districts and regions more than others?

We have seen some sections of our society question the fairness of the very system by which we are governed and people have made calls for the adoption of a system that would guarantee development as a right for all Malawians, not a reward for those who belong to the party in power?

The calls for the adoption of a federal system of government may not be the solution we seek, but such calls should not be dismissed lightly, for they are a symptom of a disease namely the politicization of development and resources.

We, in the Malawi Congress Party, are against and condemn any past, present, or future efforts to muzzle or gag citizens from debating this issue freely. Both the strength and survival of our democracy depend on our ability to debate such matters with civility and openness.

We acknowledge the steps taken by Public Affairs Committee in initiating interaction, understanding and analysis of the matter. We also acknowledge that the President has said that Malawians should debate the issue.

There is however an urgent need for a timeline or the structure that that debate should take. We expect that this issue will be addressed urgently, fully and with the objectivity and sensitivity it deserves.

In the interest of transparency, we in the Malawi Congress Party feel and side with Parliament’s decision to ask the Executive to pend the sale of MSB Bank until Parliament completes its oversight role as the people’s representatives.

The economy

Section 13 of the Constitution states that the state shall actively promote the welfare and development of the people of Malawi by progressively adopting and implementing policies and legislation aimed at achieving certain goals one of which is in paragraph (e) enhancing the quality of life in rural communities and recognising rural standards of living as a key indicator of the success of

Government policies.

I was bemused to hear that our economy is on the right track and that our Foreign Reserves are at their best since independence.
How can we believe that when our civil servants, workers and people in the rural areas are suffering?

How can we believe that when people are going on strikes because they cannot make ends meet? I urge the DPP Government to stop this campaigning now and concentrate on governing for the betterment of our people and the betterment of our mother Malawi.

Cashgate

I acknowledge that a few cases relating to cashgate have been concluded in the courts. However as Malawi Congress Party and as representatives of no other interests than those of Malawians, we will accept nothing less than the swift prosecution of every suspect and the full recovery of every Kwacha stolen from tax payers and donors by those found guilty in a court of law.

It is sad in my view that Government’s efforts to address cashgate head on and root out its causes are not satisfactory. There is lack of urgency and the dilly-dallying tactics. It is almost as though government’s failure to deal decisively with all cash gate cases is deliberate.

So let me put it plainly: If this Democratic Progressive Party led government does not push for urgent conclusion of all the cashgate cases and does not ensure the full recovery of the resources stolen thereby, Malawians will forever hold them responsible for the misery they are suffering.

We notice an unwillingness on the part of the government to deal with the pre-cashgate corruption which saw the missing of billions of Kwacha which is not fully probed. If the current government is serious in fighting corruption, they should also deal with these cases.

We, in Malawi Congress Party, are not interested in selective justice that confines its inquiry to political opponents. We demand that justice be done for Malawians, and it should be done swiftly. It is no secret that we are in urgent need of medicine for our hospitals, salary increments for our teachers, and improvements in the welfare of civil servants in general.

The Floods

The effects of the devastating floods that hit most parts of the country early this year are still being felt. I feel sad that the urgency that gripped the country at the beginning of the floods is slowly waning.We seem to slowly be forgetting that our brothers and sisters that were affected by the floods still need our help. There is still need for shelter, food, clothes and fast maturing seed.

In January I called for solidarity and urged all Malawians of good will, Non Governmental Organisations and the international community to come to our assistance.I thank everybody that has come to our aid.I urge you however not abandon us, we have not turned the corner yet. Outside Parliament, Malawians and our Donors still need to receive from the Government an update the amount of aid received by Government, the expenditures so far incurred, how aid has been spent and areas that still require urgent attention.

I have heard calls to the effect that people now living in flood prone areas should relocate to upland areas. I support such calls but Government must also deal with issues of amenities such as water, schools, hospitals and roads and even housing.Before calling on the concerned villagers to move upland, issues of chieftancy and traditions must be critically looked at and addressed. For example where will they move to, if the people move upland how will their traditional leaders fit into the traditional areas that they move to?
With these floods and the late start of the rains as well as their erratic nature, it seems evident that the agricultural output has been heavily reduced.

It is high time we put real emphasis on irrigation and mechanization rather than rely on rain fed production.We need, therefore, to adequately prepare for the obvious food insecurity that will result from all this. And the Ministry of Agriculture should be realistic in their projections. Whatever will be harvested needs to be stored properly. In this we call upon government to support ADMARC and NFRA to ensure that stocks are available and accessible to the nation.

We should continue uniting in prayers in this situation. The Unfortunate remarks by the Secretary General of DPP a few days ago we learnt with great trepidation that the Secretary General of the DPP had during a meeting he addressed in Mzuzu had called on CEOs of statutory corporations to support the DPP. I condemned in very strong terms those unfortunate remarks and called for a retraction of such undemocratic statements. I asked the DPP leadership to censure the official unless the statements reflected the thinking of the leadership of the Party at the highest level.

In typical fashion of the DPP instead of retracting the remarks or censoring the Secretary General, a claim is now being made that the Secretary General was misunderstood or misquoted.It is most unfortunate, in my view, that the blame is now being placed on the media.

I repeat my demand that there must be an unequivocal retraction of those unfortunate statements.If the DPP insists that the Secretary General was misunderstood then I demand that the DPP must make available to Malawians the complete recording or full transcript of what the Secretary General said so that all Malawians can hear for themselves what the Secretary General said and judge for themselves if what was said is proper.

The statement issued by the President falls short of condemning the official, it would have been even better to be told that the individual was summoned and censured instead of just generalizing.

SOURCE: NOBUHLE JESS BANDA

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