Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) deputy whip in Parliament Martha Lunji wants President Lazarus Chakwera should fire Minister of Civic Education and National Unity Timothy Mtambo because “his character is questionable as minister responsible for uniting Malawians”.
Ironically, Leader of Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa, in his response to Chakwera’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday commended the Tonse Alliance government for establishing the Ministry of Civic Education and National Unity, saying it demonstrates government’s interest in promoting unity in the country.
Said Nankhumwa, who is also DPP vice-president for the South: “My call to the President is that, he should go a step further in promoting peace and unity in our country, currently he has done a very good thing by establishing a Ministry Responsible for National Unity which is being led by Timothy Mtambo.
“However there is a lot which needs to be done and this include formation of a clear policy that would help to visibly address issues of unity in the country by clearing the rubble of regionalism and tribalism.”
But speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Lunji, who is also Nkhotakota North legislator, said the minister appointed is not suitable for the portfolio.
She said: “It would have been better if he was given another ministry. The ministry he is heading is about promoting unity and the person appointed cannot promote unity.
When he was leader of Human Rights Defenders Coalition [HRDC], he was involved in demonstrations that saw people’s businesses, houses and other structures being destroyed.”
Lunji said people who suffered in the demonstrations will not be able to heed his message of unity when he led protests that saw several Malawians being victimised.
She also condemned the firing of principal secretaries of some ministries, saying the move does not reflect the Tonse Alliance government’s commitment for promoting national unity.
“Principal secretaries are technocrats and not politicians, yet government is busy fighting them. They are technocrats and they should be left alone,” said Lunji.
She also called on government to walk the talk on the fight against corruption, saying there is need to ensure independence of the Anti-Corruption Bureau.
However, Leader of the House Richard Chimwendo Banda asked if it was proper for the DPP deputy whip to question the President’s prerogative.
Second Deputy Speaker of National Assembly Aisha Adams agreed with Banda that Lunji was not supposed to question the President’s prerogative.
However, in an interview later, Lunji maintained that the issue of Mtambo needs to be looked into as his background does not suit the position he is holding.
Soon after the May 2019 Tripartite Elections Mtambo and other HRDC leaders led thousands of Malawians in holding demonstrations to push for the resignation of former Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson Jane Ansah and other commissioners for presiding over a flawed election.
The demonstrations at times turned violent and led to destruction of property for government and private companies and individuals.
But responding to Chakwera’s Sona titled Restoring Warmth to the Heart of Africa, Nankhumwa on Monday said over the past years there has been lack of unity among people in the country; hence, the Tonse Alliance government’s gesture to promote unity has come at the right time.
He also advised political leaders from both government and opposition sides to take matters of national unity seriously if the country is to forge ahead.
Speaking in Mzuzu after being appointed Minister of Civic Education and National Unity in July, Mtambo said his ministry is committed to promoting unity in the country.