- Accused of using religion to gain political mileage
Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and political analysts have faulted United Democratic Front (UDF) leader Atupele Muluzi for using religion and tribe to discredit other candidates in the campaign ahead of the July 2 presidential election.
But UDF spokesperson Ken Ndanga has defended Muluzi, saying he did nothing wrong.
During a whistle-stop campaign tour in Chiradzulu last week, Muluzi, who is also running mate to President Peter Mutharika in the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and UDF Alliance, claimed that the late Malawi Police Service Superintendent Usumani Imedi was killed during protests at Msundwe last year because he was a Muslim from Mangochi.
Said Muluzi: “Ngati akupanga zimenezi ali kotsutsa, nanga atatenga boma zitha kukhala bwanji? Zikhoza kudzachitika chani ndi muno m’Malawi? Ine amayi abambo ndine Msilamu. Panali wa polisi, Imedi, sergeant Imedi, amagwira ntchito yake bwinobwino. Anagompeza kuti ooh Msilamu, wa ku Mangochi, kumupha pompo, mopanda chisoni. Izi zakhala zikuchitika miyezi 10 yapitayi.” [If they are committing these atrocities while in opposition, what more if they get into government? What will happen in Malawi? Ladies and gentlemen, I am a Muslim. There was a police officer Imedi, he was discharging his duties professionally. But when they discovered that he was a Muslim from Mangochi, they killed him. These things have been happening in the last 10 months].
A video clip of the message has also gone viral on social.
PAC has since demanded that Muluzi must apologise to the nation for his remarks, branding them unfortunate and divisive.
In an interview yesterday, spokesperson for the quasi-religious group Bishop Gilford Matonga said Muluzi’s remarks are not only worrisome, coming from someone who is seeking the high office of State vice-president.
He said: “We condemn for campaign. By saying that, Muluzi is bringing the country into conflict.greatly whoever uses religion
“If he was to be the country’s vice-president, is he going just to be VP for Chiradzulu and Mangochi only? Such kind of cheap and dirty politics must be condemned.”
Matonga also called on politicians to focus on issue-based campaign and avoid cheap politics which will not develop Malawi but only bring chaos.
Political and administrative studies lecturer at University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, Mustafa Hussein, in a separate interview said Muluzi’s conduct is surprising as he has been advocating for an issue-based campaign.
He said: “We did not expect this from the young Muluzi. Some countries like Rwanda and Burundi have had wars because of ethnic differences and it is unfortunate that Muluzi is using such dirty tricks to campaign. He must be condemned.”
Another Chancellor College-based political analyst Ernest Thindwa said Muluzi is calling on people to rise against each other based on tribal and religious differences, which is not expected from someone seeking a high office.
He said: “This is someone vying for that big office and you expect him to rise above regional, ethnic or religious inclinations. He has to be a national builder. These are not the kind of political leaders Malawi needs.”
Adding his voice to Muluzi’s conduct, journalist Mallick Mnella, a Muslim, said it was disappointing to hear Muluzi single out the death of one Muslim brother when he could have raised several names.
He observed: “I recall Issa Njauju who was killed while working for the Anti-Corruption Bureau. He was of immense contribution to Islam. Would Mr. Muluzi, a politician, mention Njauju’s death? My heart is too heavy to write about Kalonga Stambuli. He, too, was a Muslim.”
Meanwhile, UDF’s Ndanga has defended Muluzi’s actions, saying only those who took part in the killing of Imedi must be worried.
He said: “Anybody who feels bitter with that statement must take himself or herself as a culprit.
“For example, I am a Christian and if I never killed anybody, why should I be worried?”
Imedi, who came from Mawuni Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Makanjira in Mangochi, was stoned to death by an irate mob oblivious of his faith while on duty at Msundwe on the outskirts of Lilongwe City along Lilongwe-Mchinji Road, where police were deployed to quell violence.