South Africa-based Malawian prophet Shepherd Bushiri has asked political leaders to prepare their supporters to accept the decision of the Constitutional Court hearing a petition seeking nullification of presidential election results.
Briefing Malawian journalists ferried to South Africa at his SB Sparkling Waters Hotel, the prophet warned that failure to prepare the followers could lead to more violence in the country.
Bushiri’s call resonates with an earlier appeal by Malawi Law Society (MLS) asking President Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the country’s immediate past vice-president Saulos Chilima now heading UTM Party and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera to prepare their supporters for both negative and positive outcomes from the case.
This is the first time Bushiri has spoken on the political situation currently rocked by tension resulting from violent demonstrations following the disputed May 21 presidential elections.
In his capacity as leader of the Enlightened Church Gathering, the prophet said he was particularly concerned that what were planned to be peaceful demonstration have degenerated into violence, leading to loss of life and property.
He said: “Look around. Innocent lives are being lost. We just buried an energetic young boy in Karonga because of violence. Not only that. People are being hacked, beaten and left for dead just because they come from different regions, or they wear a different political colour. Is this the Malawi we want? This is not on.
“Our leaders appear to have vowed to continue disagreeing without an end. We are living in a State where our leaders have agreed to completely disagree not to disagree to agree. This is not on.”
Bushiri said he is not against demonstrations, but he condemns in strongest terms the violence associated with demonstrations.
He said he has met with HRDC leadership and is willing to engage other players in the elections case for the sake of peace.
On his position on calls for Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson Jane Ansah to resign, the prophet had no specific answer, saying: “I can say yes depending on the consequences. I am yet to check with my legal team.”
Bushiri attacked demonstrators for promoting hate and division in their songs and messages, faulted DPP for purportedly taking demonstrators for fools and chided security agencies for failing to do their job professionally.
Turning to MCP and UTM, the prophet accused the leadership of the two parties of being power hungry.
Reacting to the statements, UTM spokesperson Joseph Chidanti Malunga said their supporters are ready to respect the court’s decision.
In his comment, human rights activist and lawyer Chrispin Sibande agreed with the prophet in asking political parties to seriously consider the consequences of the outcome of the court case.
He said this was a political matter which require political solutions and interventions.
Said Sibande: “This is a political case. It will please one camp and not please the other.”
HRDC member Macdonald Sembereka said the coalition is already preaching peace after the court ruling. He said it has always been their message that people should desist from violence now and in future.