Recently, the Clergy Initiative for Integral Development (Cide), a group of various denominations, told Malawi President Joyce Banda’s administration to stop arresting DPP members and concentrate on developing the country. In this interview with our correspondent BARTHOLOMEW KAWINA, talks to Cide executive director Fr. Michael Mtambo who explains what the organisation meant.
Q: At one time, you were behind Joyce Banda when she was booted out of DPP. Later, you backed the same DPP government which was against the devaluation of the kwacha when it was considered the only solution to the then economic problem, why?
A: You are right, we spoke against DPP led government because it victimised Joyce Banda which we felt was against the principles of love. We then strongly sided with DPP government to speak against the devaluation of the kwacha because we foresaw its consequences. We didn’t want Malawians to suffer because of poor decisions.
People can see that we were right when we spoke against devaluation during the Bingu wa Mutharika administration. We feel vindicated as Cide. Look, we are paying highly from the effects of devaluation. For the first time in the history of this country people were buying a 50 kilogramme bag of maize at K10 000. Can a poor Malawian afford that? We are suffering because of poor decisions that were made to devalue the kwacha.
Q: What is your assessment of reforms implemented by the People’s Party (PP) government?
A: It [The PP government] has messed up things. Many things are no longer the same again. The cost of living is unbearable, many lives are in danger.
Q: Given chance to advise President Banda, what would you tell her?
A: I would ask her to think of the welfare of the poor people by ensuring that commodities are affordable. I would also ask her to have good advisers.
Q: Are you saying the President has bad advisers?
A: Most of her advisors tell her lies just to keep their jobs. These are the people who are misleading the President and the country. Good advisers should say the truth and take any risks.
Q: Why did you hold prayers where among other things you prayed for some DPP officials who were arrested?
A: They were very important. We prayed for our country as it is going through difficult economic times at the same time we condemned the unnecessary arrests which we felt would just cost [taxpayers] a lot of money in compensation. We prayed for government to focus on rebuilding our economy.
We strongly feel they [arrests] were indeed political. The ones that orchestrated the arrests of those officials are politicians and those who were arrested are also politicians, then what can stop us to conclude that they were political?
Q: Don’t you think it was right to allow the law take its course?
A: Of course, the law has to take its course where necessary, but tell me, who initiated that commission of inquiry? What was the motive behind that? The fact that the people in the commission were appointed by the President we believe there should be some motive behind that.
Q: Can one be wrong to perceive Cide as a DPP mouthpiece?
A: We have always been, and we are still the mouthpiece of poor people. We don’t speak for DPP; we don’t speak for any party.
Q: Why should people take you seriously?
A: Let me tell you that we talk whenever there is need to do that. When things go wrong we stand up and speak against that. We spoke against the DPP government when it suppressed Joyce Banda and we are now speaking against the evils the PP government is committing. It is our role to guide people and leadership so that people should live better lives.