Simply put, President Peter Mutharika’s national address on Tuesday night was atrocious. Unless one is a cadet to lootthe statement was an affront on our intelligence and integrity. It was out of order and lacking both in substance and decorum.
Mutharika completely missed the plot. He showed through the statement read on the national broadcaster he is more obsessed with his tenure of office at State House and politics than the real disaster on his hands. If truth be told, the statement was itself a disaster. It was far from what Malawians were expecting to hear from their leader. More so after only the previous day, he had announced several life-saving and precautionary measures meant to cushion people from the ravages of coronavirus.
Against the backdrop of the pandemic, which as of Thursday this week had claimed the lives of three Malawians—one on Malawi soil and two in the UK—Mutharika chose to taunt Malawians further with a statement that was not only atrocious and pitiable but also a perversion of truth. Coming just a day after he was praised for announcing several measures for people to follow in order to tame as well as prevent spreading and contracting the virus, when it was announced the President would address the nation, people thought the President was fired up to deal with the pandemic.
But alas! After telling Malawians what they already knew about coronavirus, he trained his sights on his number one political adversary—the Malawi Congress Party president Lazarus Chakwera accusing him of fomenting violence and encouraging mob justice on people suspected to be bloodsuckers.
Mutharika then sunk to his usual self blaming all his incompetence and failures on Chakwera—the man he fears most. This is the same script he parroted at the UNGA in 2019 when he threw Chakwera under the bus and alleged he (and not the Human Rights Defenders Coalition) was behind the nationwide post-elections demonstrations that had led to looting and damage to property. It is a kind of paranoia he is failing to shed off.
As Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Mutharika ought to be on top of anything to do with security in the country. But his statement on Chakwera in the national address demonstrated a disastrous lack of such. It is true people in some parts of the country are living in fear because of the issue of bloodsuckers. But this is in the Central and Northern Region. These are opposition strongholds. Truth is that the bloodsucking saga if not quelled early enough will create voter apathy in the two regions. And in whatever manner the phenomenon is being perpetrated in the two regions, if there is anyone who would be hurt most by the saga, it is the MCP-UTM Party alliance. The fact is that people are angry because the Malawi Police Service (MPS) have failed them on the bloodsuckers’ issue. People feel they are on their own. That is why they are exacting mob justice on suspects. So, where the hell does the President get the notion that Chakwera is promoting mob justice? Mutharika also has the whole State machinery at his disposal to feed him with top intelligence and all the time. But woefully he contents himself with being lied to. Any leader worth the name and in charge of State security ought to be ashamed every time citizens resort to mob justice. Mob justice shows people have lost trust in their law enforcers.
Issues of bloodsuckers and albino killings in Malawi are not new. No one in his right frame of mind would therefore want to use them to score political mileage without inviting to oneself scorn and ridicule from the people. Sadly, such people abound in our midst. The President is abusing his constitutional privileges. He thinks the fact that he cannot be sued gives him free rein to say anything against anybody and get away with it. He is abusing the taxpayer-funded MBC knowing Chakwera will never have access to the same platform for a right of reply. During crises like the one in our midst, the President should be able to rise above partisan politics and desist from using the occasions to smear political opponents with mud.