You held a press briefing on Wednesday in South Africa. What message are you trying to relay across?
Look here, our nation is rocked with ugly scenes of violence triggered by the disputed May 21 elections. There is a camp that agrees with the results and there is another one that disagrees with the result.
There is a running case before the Constitutional Court and I want to believe that the outcome of this case, whichever way, will help bring calm and settle all the matters regarding the way forward on the disputed elections.
However, with the passionate divisions evident in our country, and each side expecting to hear nothing what they want to hear, what will happen in the country when courts announce the ruling? How are our leaders preparing their people to peacefully accept the outcome of Constitutional Court and move on? Preparing our people for this critical ruling is part of managing expectations—something we need now to avoid the escalation of violence we are witnessing now. That is my message.
Apart from the message of peace that you are preaching today, you are well connected and respected, do you intend to personally reach out to the political leadership?
I have already, as you can see, taken a first step by speaking through you, our esteemed media. But I agree, we need to move beyond. I am here ready and willing to partner and support mechanisms that will champion the cause of preparing our nation regarding the outcome of the court. I will continue speaking out, and wherever a door will open for me for further engagements on the same, I will always enter with an open and honest heart.
What do you expect of the church which seems to be divided; some are pro demonstrations others against.
I have to make it clear here. The issue we have in Malawi has nothing to do with demonstrations. In fact, when it comes to demonstrations, I don’t think we should be debating regarding supporting them or not. Demonstrations are a Constitutional right and, as a democracy, we don’t have an option but respect the Constitution.
However, the issue we have here is the escalation of violence that has dented our country. These spates of violence need to be managed. Because if we don’t do that, we may be in for danger after the court makes its ruling.
I think the church should always stand up for social justice—just like John Chilembwe in 1915, Martin Luther King in 1968 and the Catholic Bishops in 1992. Justice doesn’t have two sides; it’s not even debatable. Currently, our nation is experiencing apparent theft of justice through these continued spates of violence. The church must stand for peace, and I have taken a lead in this journey.
What is your relationship with key political leaders in Malawi; President Peter Mutharika, Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima?
I am a person who understands the principles of government and I respect our government. President Mutharika, as the head of the Executive; Chakwera and Chilima as heads of parties represented in Parliament—are all in government. I am saying all the three are in government because they are part and parcel of three arms of government. So I respect our leaders and I always pray for a strong government that delivers to the people.
On the ground some politicians feel threatened with your popularity, do you one day aspire for political office in Malawi?
The challenge we face in Malawi is that benevolence is only an enclave of politicians. That is why whenever I give free maize to disaster victims, I build schools, I support orphanages, I support of football teams—the interpretation is that I am trying to be a politician. I am not a politician; I am a man of God driven by the burden of fighting for social justice. Look at John Chilembwe, look at Martin Luther King, look at Catholic Bishops in 1992; they all stood up, as men of God, for their people without being called politicians. I am only carrying the torch.
Malawi is certainly a country in need of investment, what’s your plan to make sure that the country benefits from your business enterprises?
The press briefing in South Africa was live on Rainbow TV—one of the companies we own and it employs several people. One, Malawians were able to watch live broadcast through our TV, that is benefit number one; and secondly we employ people, we pay taxes, etc. In the coming days, we will be launching some of the investments we are doing in Malawi.
Lastly, let me say that we have a challenge of violence in our country that we need to manage by stopping its escalation. How do we do that? We should all, in the first place, accept that electoral matters are in court and when the court makes their ruling, let’s accept the verdict and move our country on. Let’s lock hands for peace!