‘Effective checks and balances on government policies and actions are better executed by opposition political parties. The current situation provides an opportunity to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to effectively play this role.’
By Mandy Pondani & Yohane Symon
The Public Affairs Committee (Pac) has challenged former president Peter Mutharika on his role to strengthen Malawi’s democracy by ensuring that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which he leads, provides solid opposition to government.
Pac’s call comes as the former ruling party is beset by divisions which analysts say threaten the party’s opposition role in the country.
At a meeting with the former president yesterday, Pac chairperson Monsignor Patrick Thawale told Mutharika to ensure that the DPP remains strong.
He said this is the best way for it to provide effective checks and balances to the government.
“…The survival of democracy largely depends on the role of opposition political parties. Effective checks and balances on government policies and actions are better executed by opposition political parties,” Thawale said in a statement made available to Malawi News.
According to Thawale, the “current situation” in the country provides an opportunity for the DPP to effectively play this role as an opposition party – for the good of the country.
He indicated that the DPP has not diminished in importance to Malawi’s politics just because it is in opposition now.
“No one can ignore the fact that DPP has its own following, and therefore an alternative voice in Malawi. Just as DPP was important when it was in power, it remains so even when it is outside government.
“A strong opposition is a lifeblood for the enhancement of democratic values and principles such as the rule of law, mutual respect and recognition, and peaceful co-existence,” he said.
The Pac chairperson further asked the DPP leader to prioritise dialogue and mediation when political and electoral disputes arise ahead of the 2025 elections.
“Our politics can be unpredictable. When that time comes, our mediation team will approach you or your political party for dialogue processes.
“It is our hope that your commitment to dialogue and mediation as a leader and DPP as a party will remain the same as it was in 2019,” he added.
Pac’s spokesperson Reverend Gilford Matonga told Malawi News in an interview that their meeting with Mutharika was “fruitful and cordial, with a consensus to be interfacing regularly”.
Matonga said Mutharika had no company during the meeting.
According to him, the former president assured them he is open to pursuing peace and unity in Malawi.
In an interview, Mutharika refused to directly comment on the topic of discussion with the Pac delegation.
However, Mutharika said he was excited that Pac engaged him on a number of issues which are important to the country.
He said he felt that the meeting with Pac had managed to achieve its agenda.
Commenting on the prevailing socio-economic situation in the country, Mutharika challenged the government to quickly find solutions to the problems Malawians are facing.
Mutharika said when he took power in 2014, he managed to restore and improve the economy within six months. He said he was hopeful that the current administration will also put in place measures to address the challenges.
The former president said it is sad that there is nothing that is working to the best interest of Malawians as prices of basic commodities are increasing every day because of the bad economic policies by the government.
He however challenged the government to use the meeting with the International Monetary Fund delegation (IMF) next week to convince them to resume the credit facility with the country, which he said in the only pipeline of hope for the country.
“This is a good opportunity for the country. It is a make or a break meeting for Malawi. It is my hope that the government will convince IMF to support Malawi so that the country’s economy improves,” he said.
This was the first time Pac held an audience with Mutharika two years after he left office, following his loss to President Lazarus Chakwera in the June 23, 2020 court sanctioned presidential election.