After missing in the region for over a year, President Peter Mutharika finally arrived in the northern region Friday evening, with an apology to people who welcomed him at Mzuzu Shoprite Roundabout.
Mutharika last appeared in the region in April 2019, and had not visited the region since then. He had also not left Lilongwe for any
district heading to the north, confining himself mostly to the Southern region.
Speaking upon arrival in Mzuzu on Friday, Mutharika justified his absence, saying it was due to the volatility of the situation, following protests that marked the after-math of the nullified May 21 2019 elections.
He said: “I must apologize for not being here, but you know the violence that was taking place, so traveling was difficult. And I
didn’t expect that I will see all these people, because people were telling me that there is no DPP [Democratic Progressive Party]
in the North.”
Before him, Health Minister Jappie Mhango said people in the North had been asking of the whereabouts of Mutharika, and he was happy that the President had finally arrived in the region.
Said Mhango: “You people were asking us, where is the President? But we told you that he is coming, and here he is now. Mr president,
these people were crying to see you their leader, they are happy that now you have come.”
In May, DPP regional governor (North) Reverend Christopher Mzomera Ngwira disclosed that Mutharika had not visited the Northern Region since his annulled re-election bid last May due to security threats.
The governing party’s senior official was apparently reacting to public sentiments and observations that Mutharika, a candidate in the July 2 fresh presidential election, could find it difficult to campaign in the Central and Northern regions having “ignored” the areas.
Ngwira said that following post-election violence that mostly happened concurrently with nationwide demonstrations to push for the resignation of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah and her commissioners, DPP officials advised the President to keep away from the region.
He said: “There are reasons why the President has not visited the Northern Region… Even in the Central Region, he just passes by. The
North is where people were killing each other, people were being beaten and the President could have exposed his members to violence.
“So, we told him not to come because there was war here. If he had come, it meant exposing DPP members. Thugs would have been following them to their houses. So, we said, don’t come, until the situation
Records show that Mutharika last visited the Northern Region in April 2019 in the run-up to the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections whose
presidential election both the High Court and Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal nullified over alleged irregularities, especially in the results management system.
Earlier, Mzuzu-based rights activist Charles Kajoloweka wondered how the President could not visit the north yet he heads all security
institutions, further wondering why he was able to visit Blantyre and Lilongwe where protests were also taking place.
After the 2019 polls, there were a series of post-elections demonstrations led by Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) which,
at times, turned ugly, especially in Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Karonga where some people looted shops, damaged property and injured others.
HRDC wanted to force the resignation of MEC chairperson Jane Ansah and her commissioners for allegedly presiding over a flawed electoral process fraught with irregularities.