President Peter Mutharika yesterday poked fun at his political rivals and dismissed claims that he is in hiding after his triumph in the disputed May 21 presidential race, saying he has no reason to hide.
In a rare brief address that lasted about five minutes at the commissioning of the 800-hectare Bwanje Valley Irrigation Scheme and Dam at Nsekeni Primary School ground in Mtakataka, Dedza, the President said he will never abandon Malawi.
In a Chichewa address, Mutharika said: “Ena akuti ndathawa. Akuti ndapita ku Mozambique… Zabodza zimenezo. Palibe munthu m’Malawi ndingamuope ine ayi. Ndidzakhala kuno ku Malawi nthawi yonse. [Some people are alleging that I have fled the country to Mozambique, that is not true. I fear no one in this country].”
The President was apparently reacting to public observations, largely expressed through social media platforms, that he was avoiding his official residence at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe because he was afraid of protesters questioning his victory as declared by Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah on May 27 this year.
The country’s immediate past vice-president Saulos Chilima of UTM Party and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera are challenging results of the presidential election claiming that they were rigged in favour of Mutharika who got 38 percent of the vote. Results MEC announced show that Chakwera trailed Mutharika by 35 percent while Chilima, who was until May this year vice-president to Mutharika, finished third with 20 percent of the votes.
Currently, Chilima and Chakwera are in court as first and second petitioners, respectively, seeking nullification of presidential election results over alleged irregularities, especially in the results management system.
A paneL of five judges of the High Court of Malawi sitting as the Constitutional Court comprising Healey Potani, Dingiswayo Madise, Ivy Kamanga, Redson Kapindu and Mike Tembo set July 29 as the date for hearing of the substantive case will start.
Ever since his victory declaration, Mutharika has only been to Lilongwe once where he spent two nights and left for Chikoko Bay State Lodge in Monkey Bay, Mangochi soon after delivering a State of the Nation Address (Sona) in Parliament on June 21.
MCP legislators booed the President and walked out on him as he delivered the Sona, saying they did not recognise his legitimacy.
Mutharika amassed a majority of his votes from the Southern Region while Chakwera dominated in the Central Region and Chilima was the favourite in the sparsely-populated Northern Region.
During his address yesterday, the President said the election proved his earlier declaration that he would be re-elected, drawing applause from his partisan audience predominantly clad in Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) blue cloth.
Mutharika claimed his challengers failed to dislodge him because they lacked the vision to take the country on the development path.
He said: “Analephera! Anagwa! Pakali pano akulira… Akulira! Ndinanena kuti adzalira pa May 23 [May 21]. Ndinanena kuti ndidzawafinya! Ndidzawagwe-deza! Ndidzawatekesa! Ndidzawaponda… Kuwaponda! Kuwaponda! [I told them that I won’t lose the election and that I will trample on them. They are now in tears].”
Speaking earlier, DPP secretary general Grezelder Jeffrey said all election observer team reports endorsed Mutharika as the legitimate winner of the May 21 Tripartite Elections.
However, Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and European Union Election Observer Mission expressed some reservations. The European Union Election Observer Mission also faulted the results management system.