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50 percent +1 issue must not divide Malawians

I watched President Peter Mutharika on Wednesday. It was on State-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Television on Wednesday when he angrily accused the Public Affairs Committee (Pac) and Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Lazarus Chakwera, of trying to bring down the DPP-led government.
Well, I am not sure about where the President got his information; is it from the so-called unreliable National Intelligence Bureau or the most reliable military intelligence or the most unreliable Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) cadres?
First, let me acknowledge the strides by the government, I mean the DPP led government, to improve the economy— at least on paper.
The Mutharika administration should be applauded for improving the economy and bringing down inflation, at least on paper.
But ordinary Malawians, including myself, are yet to see the results of the improved economy and the single digit inflation, at least as of now.
Well, that is not the issue I wanted to articulate today.
I was, in fact, surprised to hear the President describing Chakwera as a foulmouthed reverend.
I know foulmouthed politicians. who misused their mouths to describe their political opponents.
I have, on several occasions, attended rallies addressed by Chakwera, especially when I was engaged as a temporarily reporter for The Daily Times recently.
I do not remember him, I mean Chakwera, foul-mouthing Mutharika, at least at any of the rallies I attended.
Chakwera stuck to his usual bashing of government policies which, he claimed, were not pro-poor but never went personal on the then president, Joyce Banda, or then opposition DPP presidential candidate Mutharika.
This is why I think the President is either ill-advised or has chosen to mislead himself.
I do not think it was fair for Mutharika, a respected constitutional lawyer, and a person who has taught constitutional law in the world’s largest and biggest democracy, to declare that peaceful protests were illegal.
The President, who is one of the architects of the Republican Constitution, knows very well that he is not above the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi. He also knows that he cannot override it.
The intent to go to the streets by Pac and our distinguished Catholic bishops and other men of God is not tantamount to a revolt.
The Constitution of the Republic of Malawi allows people to go to the streets with or without any purpose.
I do not see the reasons why the President and his DPP should be panicking over the decision by a section of Malawians to take to the streets over their frustrations on 50 percent +1 issue.
I do not think that the opposition, especially the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), is using Pac to bring down the government.
This issue of 50 percent +1 actually emanated from a report of the Special Law Commission.
I am, therefore, surprised that Mutharika is connecting the issue to the downfall of the government.
I have not heard, anywhere, that the honourable Catholic bishops and Pac intend to bring down the government of His Excellency President Mutharika.
Probably the President just fears his own shadow.
We all know the role the Catholic bishops and Pac played in this country to bring down the one party state.
Pac and the Catholic bishops were there for Malawians when they told the single party state that enough was enough, Malawians wanted multiparty democracy.
Pac and the Catholic bishops were there for Malawians when they told Bakili Muluzi that this was not a monarchyfor him to extend his rule to three presidential terms and later open term.
Pac and the Catholic bishops were there for us when they told former president Bingu wa Mutharika to stop his arrogance, intolerance and dictatorial tendencies.
Therefore, my advice to Mutharika is to cease playing politics with religious leaders. Let his administration not use the divide and rule tactic on the so-called religious leaders.
I am saying the so-called religious leaders because some of them are greedy, corrupt and cannot be trusted.
This brings me to the issue of 50 percent +1.
I do not want to comment much on this because my fellow columnists in this esteemed newspaper have done so; so that the President is so annoyed that he described this oldest and award-winning newspaper as Daily Congress.
The President’s implication is that The Daily Times publishes stories in favour of the opposition, the Malawi Congress Party.
As I said in some fora, no president has ever won any battle with a newspaper or any media.
Bakili Muluzi withdrew government advertising from The Daily Times for his selfish and political reasons. Where is he now?
The Times Group continues to enjoy massive growth, and has just added an exciting radio and television media.
The Times Group continues to win Misa-Malawi awards year after year, which means Malawians are happy with it.
Former president Bingu wa Mutharika withdrew government advertising from Nation Publications Limited (NPL) in 2011 or thereabouts.
Bingu is now dead but NPL continues to grow.
What I want to say here is that politicians come and go but democratic institutions, such as the media, will go on rolling each passing hour and day.
This is why I say to politicians; hands off democratic institutions!
It was sad to hear from the President last week that cases of corruption remain high in the country.
He said this when he was handing over 100 vehicles from the People’s Republic of China to the Malawi Police Service.
US Ambassador to Malawi, Virginia Palmer, said her government might withdraw aid it pumps into Malawi, through the Malawi Challenge Account in the energy sector, if corruption goes unabated in the country.
This is why I urge Mutharika to redirect his energy on improving the functioning of democratic institutions such as the Anti- Corruption Bureau.
Well, let me wish you, lovers and critics of this column, seasonal greetings!

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