And, this year, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) did just that. They failed to separate the two when, on many occasions, it abused public resources to achieve its partisan goals.
Memories are fresh in the minds of Malawians, who watched the party milk water boards, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi, Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority, city councils and other parastatals who supported the DPP’s Blue Night fundraising dinner held in August in Lilongwe.
The institutions were forced to buy tables at the event.
It took the efforts of civil society organisations (CSOs), which dragged Mzuzu City Council (MCC) to court on the matter, to bring the DPP back to sobriety. So effective was the CSOs’ strategy that the DPP and the institutions had to agree on an out-of-court settlement.
The Blue Night scandal was too dramatic.
DPP vice president responsible for Central Region, Hetherwick Ntaba, was thrown into the picture when it emerged that he was the one responsible for accepting the funds from the institutions while the institutions were distancing themselves from contributing to the ruling party’s event.
Malawians later learned that CSO leaders, Ntaba and other DPP leaders such as Grizeder Jeffrey met and agreed to disagree after the CSOs asked the DPP to reimburse contributions made by public institutions.
MCC was stopped from paying the funds it committed to support the Blue Night.
More can be written on what transpired during the Blue Night saga but the bottom line is that the DPP abused public resources.
The Northern Region DPP committee was not left behind, in terms of enjoying the fruits of being in power.
In July, DPP snatched a vehicle belonging to Mzimba Prison and used it to ferry its supporters from Mabilabo and Khonsolo areas to Mzimba Boma, where President Peter Mutharika inaugurated the Mzimba Integrated Water Supply Project, implemented by Northern Region Water Board.
The Daily Times witnessed DPP supporters chanting songs praising Mutharika’s leadership when they were arriving at the venue.
A prison warder was driving the vehicle and the supporters told the reporter that they were picked at around 6am to the venue.
The then minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security, Grace Chiumia, denied that the party had used a prison vehicle to ferry its supporters.
Chiumia then said the people were like other people who were coming to the government function that later turned into a development rally.
But Malawians remember that the same minister snatched a vehicle belonging to the Forestry Department at Lusangadzi in Viphya Plantations, which ferried DPP youths from Mzuzu City to Chitipa, where President Mutharika held a rally.
However, the minister argued that she borrowed a vehicle and the people ferried belonged to a football team— which she sponsors— which had a game in Chitipa District.
Malawians watched the whole scenario and they arrived at their own judgement.
Again, voters cannot forget that the ruling DPP Secretary General, Jeffrey, was assigned her own police officer as a bodyguard.
Jeffrey was spotted in Mzimba Hola Constituency where she conducted a rally to welcome Member of Parliament for the area, Reverend Christopher Mzomera Ngwira.
Dressed in Police uniform, the bodyguard was spotted assisting the Secretary General handing over party cloth to Ngwira.
Questions were asked, as Malawians wondered whether the Constitution of the land gives power to the ruling party’s Secretary general to have a police officer.
But the police said they provide security to such people if they notice some security threat.
Additionally, in November, Malawians observed a new approach by the DPP, in terms of ransacking public institutions.
This was observed during the recent assignment which president Mutharika fulfilled at Raiply Malawi at Chikangawa in Mzimba. We saw NRWB one tone vehicle ferrying DPP youths from the rally to Mzuzu City.
The youth managed to remove the registration number of the vehicle so that observers could not recognise the board’s vehicle.
However, Church and Society of Livingstonia Synod Executive Director, Moses Mkandawire, in an interview said ruling parties should understand the difference between the party and the government.
He said Malawi cannot develop if misunderstandings between party and government activities continue.
“We chose democracy and we loved it. But we are supposed to understand and know our limits. The government is not a ruling party. Therefore, milking government institutions that are struggling to operate should not be condoled,” Mkandawire said.
Mkandawire’s comments were also echoed by another social commentator, Charles Kaloweka.
He said the administration of the DPP has been the worst as compared to other administrations when it comes to abuse of power.
All in all, when Mutharika preaches the gospel of the pillars of patriotism, hard work and integrity, the million kwacha question is: How long is the DPP inner cycle ready to abide by the said pillars?
The year 2018 may bring the answer.
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