By Yohane Symon:
President Peter Mutharika, in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of Malawi Defence Force (MDF), has directed MDF and Malawi Police Service to stop border and airport demonstrations which Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has organised from August 26 to 30 2019.
Mutharika made the remarks in Mangochi District Wednesday when he commissioned six warships which the government has bought for the MDF Maritime Department.
A highly charged Mutharika accused HRDC, opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM of organising the demonstrations to topple his government unlawfully.
“Without borders, there is no Malawi. Undermining our borders is undermining the very existence and sovereignty of our country,” Mutharika said. “Invading borders is the greatest threat anyone can pose to our country. I, will, therefore, have no choice but to take all measures necessary to ensure and protect the sovereignty and integrity of our nation.
“As the Commander-in-Chief, I am directing the MDF and the police to protect our borders and airports with all the necessary force to ensure that the integrity of our borders is not compromised even for a single minute.”
He also accused MCP president Lazarus Chakwera and his UTM counterpart Saulos Chilima of using HRDC to destabilise the country due to their failure to win the May 21 presidential election.
“The disruptions we are witnessing in the name of elections are not about elections, but the opposition attempt to take over a lawfully constituted government by unlawful means using the HDRC mask. This will not be allowed,” Mutharika said.
He accused Chakwera of instructing MCP members of Parliament to disturb the State of the National Address when Mutharika opened this year’s session of Parliament.
“Our Constitution does not say we will choose our leaders through anarchy and violence… Rev Chakwera, I don’t care whether you respect me or not. I don’t need your respect, but please respect the presidency,” Mutharika said.
But HRDC Chairperson Timothy Mtambo and his deputy Gift Trapence, in a statement released Wednesday, say Mutharika was being fed with lies by people who have surrounded him.
“Malawians are extremely shocked by the President’s position given that his power derives from the people and is not absolute as stipulated in the Constitution. After hiding in the cocoon for too long, Mutharika missed an opportunity today to simply announce that he has fired Jane Ansah. He instead went on the offensive, making a decree which has no basis in law. HRDC would like to remind the President that he is not above the law and that Malawi is a democratic State where the citizenry, that include the President, are subjected to the rule of law.
“We wish to remind Mutharika that his decree is not only against established human rights and good governance values and principles, but also the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi, which, under Section 38, guarantees the citizenry the right to assemble and demonstrate with others peacefully and unarmed.”
Mtambo said HRDC was not being used by politicians but it was doing what Malawians were looking for.
He said HRDC would continue with their planned airport and border shutdown to force Ansah to step down.