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DPP draws fire over tribal remarks

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Leader of opposition and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) President Lazarus Chakwera has called upon Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to apologise to the people of the North for the remarks the party’s Secretary General Greselder Jeffrey uttered in Karonga declaring that the region will never produce a state president till eternity.

Jeffrey challenged Alliance for Democracy (Aford) leaders and other politicians in the North that they are failures and cannot lead the country.

However, Chakwera said such remarks promote tribalism, nepotism and regionalism, which MCP and Malawians at large cannot entertain.

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“I have heard that a senior DPP member said the north will never produce a state president. These are unfortunate words to Malawians who were already preached to about unity during MCP regime. Leaders are not subjected to one region. Therefore, such remarks should be reverted,” Chakwera said.

Speaker of National Assembly, Richard Msowoya, said it is sad that some politicians are still practising politics of regionalism.

He said the remarks paints a picture that the North should expect less development because it has never produced a president.

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“What is wrong with us – the Northerners? We have heard ourselves that we cannot lead the country, should we still give support to such leaders? Why are we still blind my fellow northerners?” Msowoya queried.

Political commentator, Humphreys Mvula, described the statement from Jeffrey as sad, tribalistic and un-Malawian.

He said it is an insult to Malawians from the North including top party officials to grace DPP rallies only to be told that they can only be hand-clappers.

“I wonder if the statement represents the DPP’s policy on the North because this is not the first time. Minister of Transport, Jappie Mhango, and the former minister of Agriculture, George Chaponda also said the same thing. Again, it is the same DPP government which is using quota system to admit students into public universities,” he said.

Executive Director of Church and Society of Livingstonia Synod of CCAP Moses Mkandawire said Jeffrey’s sentiments are tantamount to hate speech.

He said people from the North will drag Jeffrey to court where she will have to explain what she meant by saying that the Northern Region cannot produce a president.

“We cannot tolerate such kind of thinking in the country. We do not want Rwanda, Sudan or Kenyan scenarios here. You will soon hear that we have dragged her to court to explain what she meant,” he said.

However, Jeffrey on Monday said she was attacking Aford, arguing her remarks are a true reflection on the ground.

She, however, said she did not generalise that no-one can lead the country from the region.

“The problem is that opposition parties have realised how strong I am in organising the DPP across the country. They fear me and they have decided to twist my speech so that people should start hating me.

“Sorry to say that we are strong with our leader Peter Mutharika and we know that Northerners want development and not a leader because they already have Mutharika,” Jeffrey said.

Political scientist Mustafa Hussein in an interview said the statements are discouraging and perpetuate regionalism among Malawians, promote regionalism and should not have a place in modern democracy.

He said people in the North are Malawians and have equal rights just like people who come from any region of the country.

“Usually, people say that looking at the population of the people from Northern Region. However, such kind of thinking is backward, fallacious and fraud. Everyone should feel that they have a role to play in Malawian politics,” Hussein said.

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