Civil society organisations (CSOs) have cautioned President Peter Mutharika to be careful when communicating to people to avoid provoking distrust.
The CSOs were reacting to the President’s remarks made during his political rally at Masintha Ground in Lilongwe last Sunday with regard to the involvement of retired judge Elton Singini, former solicitor general and attorney general and former Malawi Defence Force (MDF) commander general Henry Odillo in the commission of inquiry following the death of former president Bingu wa Mutharika.
In his speech, Mutharika intimated that the treason charges levelled against him and 11 others were a concoction and “stupid” and that they were influenced by tribal politics.
But the CSOs, under the banner of Civil and Political Space Platform (CSP Platform), have expressed disappointment and disapproval of the remarks, which they consider unfortunate.
CSP Platform is a loose network of governance and human rights faith-based organisations (FBOs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that are supported and coordinated by Danish Church Aid (DCA).
Some of the network members are Public Affairs Committee (PAC), CCAP Church and Society Programmes of Livingstonia, Nkhoma and Blantyre synods; Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) of Chikwawa, Dedza, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Karonga dioceses; Christian Service Committee (CSC) and Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM).
Others are Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Women’s Legal Resources Centre, Association for Progressive Women (APW) and Maziko Radio.
The CSOs’ censure comes barely a few days after Malawi Law Society (MLS) also condemned Mutharika’s claims and described them as nepotistic and unacceptable.
In a statement issued over the weekend, the CSOs say it was naive for Mutharika to insinuate that the commission’s conclusions were on the basis of tribal origins.
They also condemn the President for calling the former MDF head “a cheat”, saying the remarks were slanderous and defamatory.
“Such speculative thoughts are divisive and can only be construed as fear-mongering as they easily provoke distrust and conflict between political parties, tribes and regions in the country,” says the statement signed by CSP Platform chairperson Moses Mkandawire.
The Platform further says the President’s claims implied that the former Army commander misrepresented the truth during the course of his employment, which they said is a “serious accusation” in light of the exemplary reputation and professionalism of the MDF throughout its history.