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Malawi is being ripped apart

Puludzu

Tension in the country, caused by the results of May 21 Tripartite Elections, sees no sign of abetting, with thousands upon thousands of Malawians joining Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) in demonstrations against the continued stay of Mec Chairperson Jane Ansah in Lilongwe, Blantyre, Zomba, Mzuzu and even outlying districts such as Chitipa, Salima and Karonga last week.

More demonstrations that intend to put three million protesters on the streets are being planned for Tuesday.

Property, both private and public, continues to be burnt during the protests and the last demos were no different, with government and Police buildings burnt in Mzuzu, Chitipa and Karonga.

In what should have clearly been retaliation, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) regional offices in Blantyre were burnt and the party has pointed an accusatory finger at the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), a charge the party in government has denied saying it is also a victim of arson and violence.

In another development, former president Bakili Muluzi has gone into the fray by meeting HRDC leaders and President Peter Mutharika to convince him to do something on Ansah.

Meanwhile, in the case currently raging in the Constitutional Court in Lilongwe, Mec was given more days to gather evidence to defend itself after the body asked the court to do so after it was disturbed in Kasungu, where its lawyers suffered violence at the hands of what were believed to be MCP supporters.

The term of this present commission that includes Ansah ends next year and, so, they are legally in office. There is no doubt about that.

Ansah spoke once and said she would not resign as demanded by HRDC as that would be tantamount to pandering to the whims of a mob and that she too is waiting for the court case that UTM and MCP have filed in the Constitutional Court asking for the nullification of election results.

Since she said these words, the demonstrators’ resolve to get rid of her has been stronger than ever and the voices louder than before. The situation has, in the past 10 days, been no different.

But there is collateral damage, with property, both public and private, destroyed and some people injured.

Business has slowed down as every time there are demos, productivity goes down as shops and offices close.

The kwacha is slowly but surely losing value and big businesses are feeling the pinch, with executives pinching their heads on how to make graphs to behave in this difficult economic environment.

The critical question that Ansah must ask herself is very simple: Is this all worth it just because she thinks she is right and waiting for the court case?

What will it take for her to resign? After all, she will still be Supreme Court justice.

This arrogance is tearing the country apart. We all know she is a Supreme Court justice and well versed in arguing her case but her action in staying put at Mec is holding the country to ransom.

Her position is untenable as none on the opposition side will participate in an election where she is chair of Mec as they have lost confidence in her.

The President holds the key to this matter, at least politically, because he is still president of Malawi as we wait for the court case in Lilongwe to be done with.

But the reality on the ground shows that the President has, at best, buried his head in the sand and pretend those demonstrating are a jealousy mob and, at worst, become belligerent himself by talking tough with words such as he will meet force with force and that he will crush fellow Malawians who feel short-changed by the system.

He is the only person Ansah can listen to since he appointed her to that position.

Why can’t the State President ask her to step down for the sake of peace in the country and nation-building and stop these demonstrations that are threatening the very survival of the nation?

If Ansah refuses as she is doing, why not fire her?

The surprise thing is that the whole establishment has, for whatever reason, decided that Ansah should not resign and, in the process, turning our lives upside down.

The President must also recognise quickly that those demonstrating are Malawians who also deserve his ear if he is to be taken seriously on his claims that he is President for all in this country.

Otherwise, he must know that his legacy is in tatters at the moment as even the international community is surprised with what is happening in the once peaceful Malawi, the Warm Heart of Africa.

There is anger among the majority of the population (62 percent) who did not vote for the President and feel left out in the running of this country as the winner-takes-all mentality gets entrenched in those who won.

There is a court case raging in Lilongwe as MCP and UTM are challenging the President’s victory, citing massive irregularities.

The temptation by some in the establishment, probably those close to the President is to think that the demos will fizzle out and they will continue eating in peace while the rest of us are clapping hands for them.

They are dead wrong as reality on the ground shows that the demos are getting bigger and the violence by criminals, who take advantage, is getting worse, inflicting damage on the reputation of the country.

The majority of Malawians did not want Mutharika and these cannot be silenced, especially if they have a grudge and want to see that grudge addressed.

In the final analysis, Malawi is being ripped apart in broad daylight because of, among other things, arrogance and big-headedness of key individuals

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