President Peter Mutharika has come under fire for alleging that some politicians are trying to ‘recruit mercenary militias from Al-Shabaab and the Congo war zone to create anarchy in the country.
Making his State of the Nation Address (Sona) in the National Assembly on Friday, Mutharika alleged that some politicians had conspired to bomb Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on May 28 when he was being sworn in following the contested May 21 presidential elections.
Said Mutharika: “I know two political leaders who discussed the possibility of exploding Kamuzu Stadium on the day of my swearing-in ceremony. They must know that I know. These two political leaders have tried to recruit mercenary militias from Al-Shabaab and the Congo war zone to come and create anarchy in this country. Is this the leadership we want?”
While he claims to have information, security organs are unwilling to comment on the matter. When asked on the allegations, Malawi Defence Force (MDF) spokesperson Major Paul Chiphwanya referred Nation on Sunday to State House.
“Since the statement came from the President himself, I think the right person to respond is the presidential spokesperson,” said Chiphwanya.
Even the police, who of late security-related developments, do not seem willing to say anything om the President’s allegations.have been excited to share
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera referred Nation on Sunday to the President or Ministry of Information.
When we contacted, Minister responsible for Homeland Security, Nicholas Dausi, also pushed the matter to the Ministry of Information, where the new minister and government spokesperson Mark Bottoman, like the MDF spokesperson, referred us to the presidential spokesperson.
Speaking, in an interview, State House press secretary Mgeme Kalilani said it was puzzling that Chakwera has resorted to address the President’s comments while he was not mentioned.
“I will answer this question by asking Chakwera a question: Why is he panicking as if he has been mentioned? We have all heard the statement by the President, but why should only him make such a demand? Is he a suspect?” said Kalilani.
Commenting on the development, a lecturer in the department of governance, peace and security studies at Mzuzu University, Eugenio Njoloma, said it is unfortunate that the President made such a serious allegation during his address to the nation. He said the allegation can lead to panic.
The lecturer observed that even where the President has some intelligence, he does not need to share it with the public.
“We know Al-Shabaab is on global spotlight. It attracts a lot of negative publicity; therefore, to be associated with such a terror group doesn’t send a good message about Malawi,” said Njoloma.
In a telephone interview on Saturday, retired Brigadier General Marcel Chirwa, who is now executive director of Centre for Peace and Security Management, said Mutharika made serious allegations.
He said such allegations have serious repercussions if they are made for the sake of buying political sympathy.
“Who am I to dispute the President’s speech? However, the allegations are very serious, especially that this is the second time he is mentioning another country meddling in internal affairs. Worse still, mentioning a country which is a member of Sadc (Southern Africa Development Community) and the African Union. Why didn’t Malawi seek redress from these organisations that member-States are conniving with some politicians in the country?”
According to Chirwa, the mention of Al-Shabaab is interesting since there are reports that the group was terrorising northern parts of neighbouring Mozambique.
“So, is that the extension coming to this place? Maybe the President has evidence, because when the President speaks, it means he has all the information required. But if he has evidence, I am not sure if it is necessary to say so on the podium, because I have never been a politician, but I have heard politicians speak for the sake of gaining some mileage, which is unfortunate,” he said.
The former senior MDF officer, appealed to the President to be careful on what he can say in public, adding that implicating other countries without evidence may backfire.
The last time Malawi was linked to Al-Shabab was in January this year following the group’s attack in Nairobi, Kenya, where 21 people were reportedly killed. Then South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) analyst Izak Khomo, claimed that there was a Malawian connection as some members of the terror group were recruited from Malawi.
The Malawi government, through former minister of Information Henry Mussa, dismissed the allegation as untrue, insisting that Malawi has no connection with Al-Shabaab.
Speaking at a press conference he addressed on Saturday at his party headquarters in Lilongwe, MCP leader Lazarus Chkwera asked Mutharika to produce evidence within 24 hours, to substantiate his claims.
“He alleged that there are two political leaders in the country who conspired to bomb Kamuzu Stadium on the day he was sworn in. Again, if Mr. Mutharika does not publicly produce evidence of this within 24 hours, then Malawians will know that this is just another one of his tippex lies.
“He alleged that the two political leaders also tried to recruit mercenaries from Al-Shabaab and the Congo to create anarchy in the country. But if Mr. Mutharika does not publicly produce this evidence within 24 hours, then Malawians will know that this is just another one of his tippex lies.
“Whatever the case, his remarks only show how unfit he is for the presidency and how detached he is from reality. As a case in point, he even claimed, with no sense of irony, that if citizens continue to protest, they will one day find themselves being ruled by evil,” said Chakwera.