United Nations (UN) has advised Malawi political leaders to stop behaving as if “it is still elections campaign period” and instead focus on working together to build the nation.
UN resident coordinator Mia Seppo said this in Lilongwe on Friday during commemoration of the International Day of Peace, which Vice-President Saulos Chilima graced as guest of honour.
But, while agreeing with the UN sentiments, the main opposition Malawi Congress Party MCP has blamed the situation on the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Seppo said Malawi’s development challenges are too great for any Malawian to afford wasting time on trivia.
Said Seppo: “When one follows the discussions and media reports, one sometimes wonders if Malawi is still in election campaign mode. This is not helpful in moving the country forward.
“The period between elections should be when every Malawian rallies around the flag of Malawi and join forces in partnerships for peace and development.
“Malawi cannot afford to lose time to politicking between the polls. The development challenges we need to tackle are too great to waste time and everyone has a constructive role to fulfil.”
Said Seppo: “The Opposition has a key role in holding government to account. Whether inside or outside of government, political parties perform the function of transforming aggregated social interests into public policy in a constructive manner.
Whether in opposition or in power, the voice and will of Malawians that parties represent is, I believe, a call for moving the country forward. Being in opposition does not always mean opposing all initiatives of government.”
In his remarks, Chilima said there are greater benefits in resolving differences in a peaceful manner. He said: “Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner, so, I appeal to you all to walk the talk on peace because if you do not, you will end up making some peace pledges in vain.”
MCP spokesperson Jessie Kabwila has agreed with Seppo’s sentiments, but said the problem is of government’s creation.
According to Kabwila, when government politicises everything, the opposition has no right to keep quiet, thereby locking the whole country into the mode of campaign.
Said Kabwila: “The UN resident coordinator is right and MCP is doing all it can to have the nation move from politicking, but government keeps politicising everything and MCP cannot keep quiet. We are only playing our role.”
National coordinator for Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), Chris Chisoni, said that he cannot agree more with Seppo’s sentiments, saying: “The national coordinator has an independent view, however, if you see how ruling and opposition parties are conducting themselves, you wonder why they are still campaigning. Recently, you have seen MCP followers endorsing [Lazarus] Chakwera as the 2019 presidential candidate yet its four years to the next elections and you wonder when they are going to focus on issues that are going to develop the nation.”
The event started with a big walk from Lilongwe Town Hall and ended with speeches at Civo Stadium. Representatives of the ruling and opposition parties participated in the event.
The global theme for this year’s commemoration is ‘Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All’ while Malawi adopted ‘One Malawi, One Flag, Partnerships for Peace and Development’ as its theme.n