Former president Peter Mutharika has claimed government is persecuting him and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members, a development he said is a plot by the Tonse Alliance administration to kill the opposition.
Speaking to journalists yesterday at his retirement home in Mangochi, Mutharika, ousted from power through last year’s fresh presidential election, also faulted President Lazarus Chakwera’s administration of leading an alleged political and economic persecution against DPP officials and himself.
“The MCP (Malawi Congress Party) government is persecuting me through freezing my bank accounts so that I should not fund the DPP. The MCP government wants to take the country back to the one party-state system,” said Mutharika.
Mutharika, accompanied by his loyalists, who included Bright Msaka, Francis Mphepo and Chimwemwe Chipungu, also faulted the decision by some entities that sued him along with former Chief Secretary to the Government, Lloyd Muhara, for their decision to force Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda and Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal judge Edward Twea to proceed on forced leave pending retirement.
However, Mutharika, citing a section from the Republican Constitution, said at the yesterday’s news conference that it is unfair to be held responsible for decisions he made while in office as a President.
“When you are President, you make many decisions. There are times when one can do a decision out of bad judgement,” he said, adding the Constitution clearly states a President would not be held criminally liable for decisions made while serving in that office.
On the issue of DPP presidency, Mutharika dismissed assertions that he had a preferred candidate to take over the party to the 2025 presidential election, arguing the party, at an appropriate time in 2023, would have a convention to elect a leader.
But reacting to the development, Minister of Information Gospel Kazako, who is official government spokesperson, said Mutharika was not justified to claim persecution.
“This is a country of laws. It’s the law that independently decides action to be taken on any matter.
“The law doesn’t segregate and certainly it won’t segregate the DPP followers or, indeed, the Tonse Alliance followers or any other Malawian,” Kazako said.
On the other hand, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chairperson Gift Trapence said in an interview yesterday, that DPP members are not sacred cows before the rule of law.
“He [Mutharika] should not hide behind persecution. Whoever was on the wrong side of the law during their time should face the law like anyone else,” said Trapence.
Chancellor College-based law professor Garton Kamchedzera said he understood Mutharika’s scheme as an extra-legal strategy to defend himself and weaken the course of the law.
“The law is available for him and the DPP. Unfortunately, the law is a friend of justice and truth which can be stubborn and naughty to people. If he invokes truth and chooses fidelity with justice, the law will be on his side,” Kamchedzera said.
National police spokesperson James Kadadzera is also on record to have said arrests of DPP members were not politically motivated, and argued police was dealing with criminal acts committed.