As dust refuses to settle in the aftermath of the May 21 Tripartite Elections, social and governance commentator UNDULE MWAKASUNGULA, says there is need that peace be pursued at all cost. His sentiments follow continued protests for calls for Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Jane Ansah to resign for allegedly mismanaging the outcome of the elections. Undule speaks to our reporter LLOYD CHITSULO. Excerpts;
How can we achieve peace when the country continues to go through such scenarios?
Peace is possible and must be pursued at whatever costs. First we must understand that violence and intolerance will not build Malawi. There is a need for all actors to engage for the good of our country. Our political leaders must be pushed to talk no matter how bad the situation is. Let our political leaders and all other actors involved in this crisis speak the language of peace, unity, co-existence and tolerance. They must engage and dialogue.
I am always optimistic as a believer because the scripture has made me testify and experience that with God all things are possible. I believe peace is achievable and paramount as that is what every peace-loving Malawian would like to see. We cannot afford to let this beautiful country be destroyed. Malawi is bigger than whatever interests we have. We must protect and safeguard the peace and tranquility we have enjoyed in this democratic dispensation of multi-party politics.
Whoever does not speak peace, does not love this country and is an agent of destruction.
What likely impact will the continued protests have on the country in all sectors of the country?
Honestly so much damage has been done, first the reputation of the once peaceful nation of milk and honey is at stake.
We have noted the protests infringing on the enjoyment of others’ people’s rights. These protests have once again highlighted how in an effort to exercise one right can make other rights be infringed such as the right to education, access to social services, freedom of movement, association, speech, safety and economic development just to name a few.
The businesses have been badly affected with vandalism by the protesters and closure of the premises due to uncertainty of security. Many offices have not been working according to schedule due to fear of the protests. All this uncertainty is affecting productive of the nation and all in all affecting the economy.
How will the protests impact on government in the long run after all this comes to an end?
One important thing to know is whatever we are experiencing now will come to pass as no situation is permanent but only the word of God.
When this comes to come pass, government will have a lot to do in terms rebuilding the nation. So much damage has been done, peoples’ mindset has been polluted. The best would be to embark on a massive national peace rebuilding initiative.
We cannot lie the nation is divided, the nation is in tatters, the nation is badly hurt, the nation is bleeding and Its only through national rebuilding that we can bring back our hope, our future, our Malawi, the Warm Heart of Africa, the land of milk and honey.
But for this to move we need the national political leadership to lead. We have to rebuild our nation at all costs and it is everybody’s responsibility and not only government or political leadership.
Further, what is paramount in all this is for the nation to engage and pursue peace. We cannot run away from talking about peace. We have to talk and walk-in and with peace.
No matter the current crisis we strong as a nation in our differences
What will be the likely achievements from such an initiative?
Of course, firstly the bigger victory and achievement will be for peace loving Malawians. But this peace initiatives will bring a number of achievements. Firstly, once engagement has been initiated we will experience ceasefire and clam which has been eluding the nation. As trust is built in the peace process, definitely we will see the nation coming back to normal, people doing their daily activities without fear hence continued growth of our economy.
The engagement and peace process can be initiated but what so important is for the nation to strive in managing our differences and conflicts without recourse to hate and violence.
On its side, what should government do in protecting its people in such a scenario?
Government has the obligation and responsibility to protect its people from violence of whatever form.
In such scenario government must be seen to protect and stand for its people. Government should not be a spectator when people fundamental rights are being infringed, innocent people beaten, harassed, intimidated and their properties destroyed just because of taking a different opposite position.
People must have trust and confident in government that it will always provide protection to and for them. The nation must not allow people to live in fear and uncertainty.
Do you have any last word?
Our differences cannot be resolved when we are pursuing violent agendas and preaching hate speeches. We must engage and not disengage from the process of pursuing national peace no matter our differences.
Every peace-loving Malawian and every Child of God will not be afraid to speak out on the importance of national engagement and need for peace.
But the choice is ours. We pursue peace for development or the path of violence and destruction.
And in the end history will judge us; for sure some of us would not want to be caught in that wrong path of history.