President Peter Mutharika’s offer of reconciliation with opposition political parties, civil society organisations (CSOs) and other stakeholders has drawn mixed reactions.
Human Right Defenders Coalition (HRDC) and opposition UTM Party say they are ready for dialogue while main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has declined the offer, saying Mutharika won the election fraudulently and cannot call for reconciliation.
The views follow Mutharika’s sentiments in Lilongwe on Saturday, on his arrival from Russia where he went to attend the Russia-Africa Summit.
He said Malawi has become a laughing stock due to the current political instability that has followed the May 21 presidential elections results dispute.
Said the President: “I am ready to work with anyone: civil society organisations, the opposition. We should forget the past and work together to rebuild the country. Other African presidents are laughing at us, including investors. We need to move forward.”
In an interview on Sunday, HRDC vice-chairperson Gift Trapence said they are always open for dialogue and that he hoped Mutharika’s offer was sincere.
HRDC has been organising nationwide demonstrations to force Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah to resign for allegedly mismanaging the May 2019 Tripartite Elections.
Said Trapence: “We hope the President is genuine about it. HRDC is always open for dialogue that has a clear agenda with the best interest of Malawians.
“In the first place, he should show leadership and his party cadets should stop terrorising Malawians. Police should arrest those who wanted to kill Billy Mayaya and also those police officers who raped Msundwe women.”
UTM Party director of publicity Joseph Chidanti-Malunga said UTM Party president Saulos Chilima has always said his party is open for dialogue.
He said: “His [Chilima] position still stands, not because President Peter Mutharika has said this, but because UTM Party believes in peace. We will wait and see whether those [Mutharika’s] words can be put in action”.
But MCP secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka said his party is not ready for dialogue with Mutharika, whom he branded an “illegitimate President”.
He said the President needs to talk about justice before talking about development and peace in the country.
Said Mkaka: “We are in court fighting the electoral injustice that took place. So, in as far as we are concerned, we are not in a position to talk with anybody who is occupying our position illegitimately.” Commenting on the matter, Lilongwe-based political scientist Godfrey Pumbwa said Mutharika’s offer would help to cool down the current political temperature.