President Peter Mutharika has set a reconciliatory tone, appealing to Malawians to practise clean politics that entrenches love, unity and peace.
With Malawians set to go to the polls in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections to elect a President, 193 members of Parliament (MPs) and 462 ward councillors, Mutharika, who is eligible for re-election for a second five-year term, appealed to the electorate to “reject politics of castigation” and smear campaigns.
Mutharika: Say no to savage politics of rudeness
He said: “Elections come and go. But this country will remain our country. This election, this campaign will come to pass. But you and I will remain Malawians.
“Let us agree to practise civilised politics in the spirit of peace, love and unity. Let us reject politics of castigation. Reject politics of hate. Let us learn to forgive one another. Beyond politics, we are all Malawians.”
However, the President’s appeal was ironic and it remains to be seen if he will walk the talk as he has previously presided over governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) political rallies where officials have openly attacked opposition personalities.
No one has been reprimanded so far for uttering hate speech in the presence of the President and aired on the taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC). In contrast, however, during a UTM party rally in Nchalo, Chikwawa, Vice-President Saulos Chilima publicly rebuked an operative for personal attacks on other political leaders.
Mutharika’s call for unity, love and peace also comes against a background of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) meeting him and other leaders, including Chilima, former president Joyce Banda of People’s Party (PP), Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera and Atupele Muluzi of United Democratic Front (UDF), among others, to commit to a peaceful election campaign.
Condemned political mudslinging: Chilima
The country’s electoral laws prescribe a 60-day period to the polling day as official campaign period when the public broadcaster is expected to allocate slots to contesting political parties and MEC can enforce its code of conduct. However, many political parties are already in full-swing election campaign.
In his address, the President said time has come for politicians to rise above petty politics and put Malawi first.
He said: “Say NO to savage politics of rudeness. Say NO to politics of lies!
“To all politicians, Malawians want us to focus on solving the long-term problems of this country. Malawians are tired of poverty. Malawians want us to compete on our policies and programmes.
“Let us listen to the voice of the people. Together, we must continue on our path to make Malawi a great country.”
Mutharika, whose reign has been characterised by power blackouts owing to generation challenges New Year’s Day address that power outages “would be a thing of the past”, said blackouts were slowly coming to an end. and pledged in his 2018
“I want to commend all those working so hard to reduce power shortage in this country. Blackouts will be history soon,” he said.
The President also bragged that the country was on the right track as the Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) Index ranked it among top 10 nations in the world and one of the only two countries in Africa committed to progressive taxation system.
In apparent reference to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Extended Credit Facility programme performance, the President said the Bretton Woods institution has since 2015 consistently given Malawi a high rating for economic performance.
He said: “The IMF is conf ident that we are economically over-performing as a country. The latest 2018 IMF report says it all.”
Specifically commenting on elections, the President said the year 2019 provides Malawians a chance to make a choice and decide the country’s destiny.
“The year 2019 is a year of elections. It is a year we will decide the fate of this country. The fate of this nation lies in the decision you and I will make this year. This is the year we will make a better Malawi or destroy our country,” said Mutharika.
In the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections, Mutharika paired with Chilima and led DPP to victory from opposition ranks, ousting then president Joyce Banda and her PP who had ascended to the presidency in April 2012 in line with constitutional order after the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika.
However, Mutharika and Chilima have parted ways politically and are only bound together by the Constitution which provides for the presidency comprising the President and the Vice-President.