President Peter Mutharika on Saturday attacked leader of opposition in Parliament Lazarus Chakwera, suggesting the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president is mentally unstable and should undergo psychiatric evaluation.
The President, who made the attack at Kasungu Boma during his road trip from Mzuzu in the Northern Region to his base in the capital city, Lilongwe, was apparently reacting to Chakwera’s scathing attack on his opening address to the 47th Session of Parliament on November 10 this year.
Tactically avoiding to mention both Chakwera and MCP by name, the President, a professor of international law, called the leader of opposition in Parliament and MCP president ‘this man’.
He told the gathered crowd that the fact that Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya ruled that Chakwera’s remarks should be withdrawn it meant Parliament noticed something wrong.
Said the President in an address monitored on taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation: “I want to write the Speaker that perhaps ‘this man’ should be sent to Kamuzu Central Hospital [so] that his head should be tested to understand why he is speaking that way.
“It is embarrassing that a man who wants to become President of this country should speak so childishly and like a mentally challenged person.”
The remarks Chakwera made in Parliament last Monday, which apparently irked the President were: “The fact is that we Malawians are in the unenviable position of having a President and an Executive so incompetent at leading and so insensitive to the suffering of the people they govern that whenever any of us speaks here, we must speak not on behalf of our political parties, but at the behest of Malawians.”
The President’s sentiments follow a ruling by Msowoya, Chakwera’s first vice-president in MCP, on Friday that the leader of opposition’s remarks that “the President is incompetent and insensitive” be struck off the Hansard—the official record of proceedings in the National Assembly.
To date, the Speaker has only ordered that some parts of Chakwera’s response in Parliament be struck off.
However, the President did not respond to the rest of Chakwera’s remarks in his address, including on allegations of corruption and theft and wealth amassed by some Cabinet ministers and aides in his administration.
Said Mutharika: “The Speaker has ordered that the remarks he made be struck off the Hansard [the official record of proceedings in the National Assembly]. ‘This man’, you know who am talking about, is a mature man.”
Mutharika and Chakwera have emerged as bitter rivals since the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections in which Chakwera trailed Mutharika in the presidential race.
Reacting to the President’s speech in Kasungu, MCP second deputy secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka described Mutharika’s remarks as unfortunate and regrettable.
He said: “When you look at how he [the President] is approaching problems that people are facing, the blackouts and job losses, it means he is incompetent and insensitive to people’s needs.
“Listening to what he [Mutharika] said in Kasungu, whose words should be withdrawn?”
Mkaka said failure to acknowledge the October 17 by-elections loss by his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and ridiculing the significance of the election to DPP meant that Mutharika was in denial.
He said: “Everybody approached the by-elections as a litmus test to this government. But instead of accepting defeat, he is ridiculing the by-elections. Does he think Malawians will change their minds in 2019 because he has ridiculed the by-elections?”
Mkaka was reacting to Mutharika’s playing down of the six by-elections—three parliamentary and three local government—where MCP won all parliamentary seats and two ward councillors against DPP’s one.
Describing the victorious MCP as ‘someone’ and by-elections which his party lost as ‘a small election’, Mutharika said the win did not mean MCP would get into government in 2019.
During the Saturday meeting, Mutharika made mention of efforts being made to address the energy crisis and pleaded for patience and support of DPP beyond 2019.
He also mentioned major road projects which his administration is carrying out starting with those in the Northern Region and Central Region, bragging that since 2014, the government had constructed 500 kilometres of roads in the country.
However, most key roads in the country were constructed during the 31 years of single-party rule under founding president Hastings Kamuzu Banda and MCP. They include the M1 Road stretching from the Shire Valley through Blantyre, Ntcheu, Dedza, Lilongwe, Kasungu, Mzimba, Mzuzu and Rumphi to Karonga; the Lilongwe-Mchinji Road; the Lakeshore Road from through Salima, Nkhotakota and Nkhata Bay to Mzuzu, Blantyre-Mwanza Road; Limbe-Thyolo-Muloza Road; Salima-Lilongwe Road; Kamwendo-Santhe-Kasungu Road.
In recent years, however, government has been rehabilitating several roads that overtime became dilapidated, including Liwonde-Mangochi and Limbe-Zomba.