Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM Party have denied playing a role in the organisation of demonstrations to force Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah to resign for allegedly residing over a flawed electoral process.
The two parties were reacting to accusations by the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) that alongside Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) they were behind the demonstrations.
In his reaction, UTM director of publicity Joseph Chidanti Malunga described the accusation as a ploy by DPP to confuse the public.
He said: “That is a misreprentation of facts by the DPP. We are not part of organisers as UTM.
“Our participation during the demonstrations has only been as concerned Malawians. HRDC has been calling on all Malawians who feel aggrieved to be part of the protests. The DPP should know that this matter is not about party supporters. It is about Malawians.”
MCP secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka agreed with Malunga and stressed that the party’s leaders were only participating in the demonstrations as citizens.
He said: “To say MCP is part of HRDC-led demonstrations is all but a misguided statement. HRDC is not MCP and that is not difficult to differentiate.
“If DPP thinks it is because we as parties have a support base then we should be implicated they are missing a point. People in the country started protesting the election results even before HRDC came in.”
The DPP statement comes against a background of MCP president Lazarus Chakwera and UTM Party leader Saulos Chilima alongside some senior members of their respective parties attending the demonstrations in Blantyre and Lilongwe.
But in a telephone interview yesterday, DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi reiterated the party’s position as expressed in the statement which also accused MCP and UTM of fuelling acts of violence during the demonstrations.
He said: “The fact remains that HRDC is just being used as a face for the demonstrations while in actual sense it is the two parties that are organising through mobilisation of party supporters.
“We know HRDC does not have supporters and that the two parties are sending their people to target DPP officials by burning and looting their properties. Today, DPP supporters in the North and Centre are being hunted like dogs.”
Dausi said the call for dialogue announced by DPP through its vice-president responsible for the South Kondwani Nankhumwa two weeks ago was no reason for the party to be bullied.
During the self-styled ‘Ansah Must Fall’ protests first held on June 20, what organisers indicated would be peaceful demonstrations turned ugly as some elements took advantage of the protests to torch private and public properties as well as loot shops.
Reacting to the DPP statement, some political commentators have said it contradicts the party’s calls for dialogue.
While agreeing with the DPP on the political connection of the demonstrations, in a telephone interview yesterday, governance commentator Henry Chingaipe faulted the party for what he called having a narrow view of a complex problem.
He said: “What lacks in the DPP is having a united voice in how they want to approach this matter. It seems to me that the party’s politburo is divided and that can only be because its leader is not rising to the occasion.”
While Nankhumwa, who is also Mulanje Central legislator and Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Developoment, made A call for dialogue at a public rally in Blantyre a few weeks ago, President Peter Mutharika is on record as having said he would crush the demonstrations.
Another political commentator Humphrey Mvula yesterday said the President holds the key to resolving the country’s post-election political problems.
He said: “The DPP is not being consistent at all in its messaging. You find that someone within the party is calling for dialogue while another one is organising counter demonstration.
“The major problem is that President Mutharika is yet to show political maturity and seize the opportunity available.”
Public Affairs Committee (PAC), a quasi-religious body formed in 1992 during the country’s political transition from one-party to multiparty system of government, is also engaged in ‘shuttle-diplomacy’ in its post-May 21 Tripartite Elections mediations.
PAC mediators team leader Archibishop Thomas Msusa of the Archdiocese of Blantyre in the Catholic Church told The Nation two weeks ago that after the first level of dialogue with Chilima and Chakwera, the team has extended another invitation to Mutharika.
State House indicated that Mutharika was yet to be given proposed dates for a dialogue meeting that was cancelled at the eleventh hour in May this year due to logistical challenges.
In a written response, presidential press secretary Mgeme Kalilani yesterday confirmed the President’s commitment to meet the PAC delegation.
While PAC rolled out its mediation drive, Chilima and Chakwera filed a petition in the court seeking nullification of the presidential election results over alleged irregularities. In 2014, PAC also played