The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has warned organisers of the now-suspended anti-Jane Ansah nationwide demonstrations, alongside opposition political parties, against creating anarchy to fulfil their alleged regime change quest.
The party, through its Southern Region governor Charles Mchacha, claimed yesterday the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), UTM Party and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) were on a mission to create a leadership vacuum at Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to satisfy their scheme of toppling government.
Mchacha alleged HRDC and the parties were just using the resignation of the MEC chairperson as a scapegoat when they were actually baying for the removal of President Peter Mutharika.
But in separate interviews, HRDC, MCP and UTM Party described the party’s allegations as regrettable and an indication of desperation that the DPP leaders had run out of ideas on how to deal with the prevailing political tension following the disputed outcome of the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
Addressing journalists and DPP followers at DPP regional headquarters in Blantyre, Mchacha said the party was saddened with increased levels of violence, plunder and destruction of national assets and would not allow a continuation.
“We have noted that there is a crusade to inflict pain on DPP supporters and systematically victimise and intimidate them through use of violence,” he said.
He said as a party, especially in Southern Region, they have remained calm but it was high time they informed the nation what their thoughts were.
“We can no longer sit back and watch anarchy taking root in our society. We can no longer allow a few individuals masquerading as human rights defenders distort the true picture and bury the real meaning of human rights.
“We can no longer sit back and watch when losers of the May 21 elections cannot honourably and democratically accept their defeat but inflict pain on us,” a visibly charged Mchacha said, reading his prepared speech.
DPP’s declaration comes just hours before the long-awaited talks between the Attorney General (AG) and HRDC representatives get underway today in Lilongwe to discuss ways of ensuring the demonstrations are conducted in a peaceful manner.
Today’s meeting follows a Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal order on Tuesday evening that the two parties must, within 14 days, hold negotiations on how HRDC could exercise the constitutional right to demonstrate without elements of violence and crime.
HRDC has been organising a series of nationwide protests to force Ansah, a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, to resign for allegedly presiding over flawed May 21 polls which saw the commission declaring Mutharika president.
But yesterday, Mchacha, who is also Deputy Minister of Transport and Public Works, said they were making a “strong declaration” that time had come for the leadership to protect the party and its members “with renewed energy and also rescue Malawi from anarchy.”
But when pressed to elaborate his pronouncement, the regional governor, who was flanked by the party’s regional director of youth Yona Mlotha and director of women Bertha Nachuma, said they would fight back through the law.
“We will mobilise our members to take action and bring them to the corridors of justice… We vow to protect the integrity of our electoral systems, root out the tentacles of domestic terrorism, violence and plunder,” he declared.
But HRDC vice-chairperson Gift Trapence said his organisation had no political agenda apart from ensuring that MEC becomes professional in managing elections.
He said: “HRDC has no plans for regime change agenda beyond the Jane Ansah issue. HRDC is just serving the interests of Malawians to make sure that democracy works for every Malawian and that there is rule of law.”
Trapence said HRDC was an independent entity and apolitical, as such, it was not working with any political party.
“We are pro-citizens. HRDC will continue protecting all Malawians and cannot intimidate anyone. Actually, it’s HRDC members that are being petrol-bombed and our key suspects are DPP cadets,” he claimed.
Reacting to the issue, MCP spokesperson Maurice Munthali said DPP must also stop expecting Malawians to sit back and watch when their constitutional rights were being trampled upon.
“There’s nobody in MCP who intends to topple any government or change any regime forcefully or illegally. What will anger people even more is when their demands are not being met. The voter has the power to demand anything within the law.
“If anything, those who have overtaken this government are the people who rigged the May 21 vote. One wonders why Mutharika] cannot listen to the people’s demand to have Ansah relieved of her duties as MEC chair following the mess she presided over during the last elections,” he stated.
Munthali urged the DPP gurus to blame themselves and Ansah for “dipping this country into the abyss of mediocrity, lawlessness and civil unrest”.
On his part, UTM Party spokesperson Joseph Chidanti Malunga said DPP’s sentiments were laughable and a sign that the party leadership has no clue on how to resolve the current situation.
“Blame game, threats and intimidation are their characteristics,” claimed Malunga.
On July 12 this year while addressing thousands of DPP supporters at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre, Mutharika also warned organisers of the demonstrations that he would crush them and ensure that they are all arrested. Before that, as he was making his State of the Nation Address (Sona) in the National Assembly in Lilongwe on June 21, the President alleged that some politicians were trying to recruit mercenary militias from Al-Shabaab and the Congo war zone to create anarchy in the country.