The State House yesterday reacted angrily to former president Peter Mutharika’s criticism of President Lazarus Chakwera that one year on the country has lost direction with corruption on the rise and the economy tumbling.
During his news conference in Mangochi on Sunday, Mutharika, who lost the court-sanctioned fresh presidential election on June 23 2020 to Chakwera, said the vote that outsted him with Chakwera amassing 58 percent was a conspiracy involving Chakwera’s Malawi Congress Party, Human Rights Defenders Coalition and judges.
But speaking at the weekly State House press briefing, the President’s executive assistant and State House director of communications Sean Kampondeni said Mutharika’s remarks were misguided and out of touch with reality.
He said: “We find the position completely unacceptable and Malawian people will be best judges of the opinion of a former law professor.”
Kampondeni said the country was now rebounding from economic woes that were worsened by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration under Mutharika.
He said the accusations of lack of policy direction were not in tandem with many policy directions Chakwera has undertaken, including fighting corruption, diversifying the economy through measures such as the new mining policy and Covid-19 pandemic response.
However, Chakwera’s top aide reserved the harshest criticism for the ex-president on his remarks about the alleged conspirancy of judges, civil society and others he did not name.
While admitting that the country was facing economic hurdles, Kampondeni said the context of the challenges shows that their root of the cause was mismanagement by the DPP administration.
He said: “The economy was in a trillion-kwacha debt that President Chakwera has now dealt with. The President is aware of the suffering of the people. He is close to the people. He is President of the people. He shares their pain. He hears their outcry.
“Just last week, the President met Cabinet twice to address these issues. He is immersed in these issues. The President and the Vice-President are working the clock to address these issues in a methodical manner. It’s not appropriate for anyone to insinuate that they are the only ones who know the suffering of Malawians.”
He said High Court Judge Agnes Patemba, a former registrar of the High Court and Supreme Court, was appointed Deputy High Commissioner to the United Kingdom based on her stellar record as an administrator.
He also said judge Esmie Chombo recently retired from the bench and that the two were free to turn down the appointments.
Malawi Law Society and several legal scholars have faulted the proposal to have judges engaged on contract, saying it undermines judicial independence. But Minister of Justice Titus Mvalo said the proposal, expected to be tabled in Parliament this week, was a recommendation from the 2007 National Constitutional Review Conference and that the current administration was only implementing it.