The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has written President Lazarus Chakwera complaining about recent arrests of its officials.
In an interview on Friday, DPP secretary general Grezelder Jeffrey confirmed writing and delivering the letter to Chakwera, but declined to take any further questions.
The party, overthrown from power through the June 23 2020 fresh presidential election, has described the spate of arrests as “politically-motivated and a form of vindictive rounding up of DPP officials”.
But a political scientist has classified DPP’s claims as a “blatant insult” to Malawians. Our efforts to seek Chakwera’s reaction to the letter proved futile as his executive assistant Sean Kampondeni did not pick up his phone; but Malawi Congress Party (MCP) publicity secretary, the Reverend Maurice Munthali dismissed DPP’s claims, arguing that those arrested were only “harvesting what they sow when they were in power”.
The letter follows arrests, on various charges of, among others, former president and DPP leader Peter Mutharika’s head of security Norman Chisale, DPP regional governor (Centre) David Kambalame, DPP councillor for Blantyre Bangwe Mthandizi Ward Isaac ‘Jomo’ Osman and DPP deputy director of elections Joe Nyirongo.
In a letter addressed to Chakwera, signed by Jeffrey, the party accuses government of making arrests against its members and sympathisers without regard to evidence of wrong-doing.
“We would like to complain and condemn in the strongest terms possible this shocking display of hatred and blatant abuse of power by Your Excellency’s government,” reads part of the letter dated July 13 2020.
The DPP says as a priority, it expects the new administration to start implementing social and economic development initiatives based on Chakwera’s campaign promises, instead of arresting its members on politically-motivated charges.
The party further states that its view is that for restoration of peace and stability after the recent political turmoil, Chakwera would reach out to the DPP and other political parties to create a peaceful Malawi.
“We need to build mutual confidence and pursue dialogue to ensure the country’s political, social and economic development. The DPP does not believe its leaders, members and sympathisers should be treated as sacred cows. We are equal under the law and we only demand to be treated as such.
“However, the way your government is ill-treating DPP members suggests that you have now classified us as ‘second class citizens’ owing to our affiliation to the DPP,” the letter reads further.
Last week, the DPP described the arrests as “sheer vengeance”, arguing that they bordered on political persecution aimed at silencing the DPP through tramped-up charges.
But the party has since vowed not to be cowed into submission or “relegated to the footnote of politics by any arbitrary arrests and intimidation” by the Tonse Alliance administration and its agents.
“We, therefore, wish to urge you, Your Excellency, to desist from the vindictive path your government has taken as it is counterproductive and retrogressive. As DPP, we are ready to play our rightful role in the entrenchment of our democracy through providing checks and balances to your government,” adds the letter.
But commenting on DPP’s letter to Chakwera, political scientist Ernest Thindwa said it was a “blatant insult” to Malawians for anyone to claim arrests were arbitrary and politically motivated.
He said the Chakwera administration would betray the majority Malawians who voted for Tonse Alliance if perpetrators of political violence and plunders of public resources during DPP reign were not held to account.