President Mutharika goes offensive - lashes out at Joyce Banda and John Tembo
President Bingu wa Mutharika on Sunday said Vice President Joyce Banda and MCP President John Tembo are not leadership material.
Though its Mutharika who personally chose Joyce Banda as Vice President two years ago.
Addressing his DPP mass rally in Lilongwe, in a speech that lacked substance, but heavy on political vitriol, Mutharika claimed that Banda had no proven track record worth mentioning but, rather that she is responsible for the collapse of some institutions.
This revelation is surprising since Mutharika personally chose Joyce Banda as his vice president for the 2009 presidential elections.
Mutharika said Banda should not blame him for the failure by her newly-formed People’s Party to get registered last week. “The Vice-President should not hold me responsible for her party’s troubles. If anything, she should remember where she’s coming from. I picked her up from the dust where she was and made her what she is".
In self-praise, Mutharika went on to say, “In fact, she should not cheat Malawians that she founded NABW (National Association of Business Women). If anything, I am the one who founded that organisation through the Federation of National Associations of Women in Business in Eastern and Southern Africa. This Federation ensured that each country in the region should have a national association to assist business women. That’s how NABW started”.
He also accused Banda of being responsible for the collapse of Women’s World Bank in Malawi.
“If she failed to register her party she should address the issues that caused that rather than wasting time blaming me. She has failed to come up with a name for her party, let alone its symbol and colours. How then can someone accuse me of blocking PP’s registration?” Mutharika said.
Turning to MCP President Tembo, Mutharika said the veteran politician should be the last person to talk anything about democracy.
“Tembo cannot be a champion of democracy. Does Tembo know the meaning of democracy? Does Tembo understand the meaning of human rights? If he wants, I can challenge him to a debate on TV where I would expose all the atrocities that he visited on Malawians,” Mutharika said.
Interestingly, Mutharika has for many months never addressed a press conference where members of the independent press have been allowed to field questions. One wonders why Mutharika is more interested in challenging opposition to TV duels, when there are many issues that are not being addressed.
But if Mutharika is serious, he should seek to meet the independent media or the Chancellor College lecturers.
The president also attacked opposition parties and civil society organisations for his stance to set conditions for demonstrations in the country.
“These people are deliberately twisting my argument on this issue. I never said people should pay for demonstrations. Malawians have a right to demonstrate but there is need for responsibility to guard against property damage”, he said.
Mutharika argued that usually demonstrators ran riots after presenting their petitions as such there is need for organisers to deposit money with authorities as insurance in case their demonstrations turn ugly adding that government cannot be expected to pay for damages caused by irresponsible people.
But reacting to the Mutharika’s outbursts, MCP spokesperson Nancy Tembo said her party president is free to criticise government when things go wrong since the country moved from one party to multiparty state, governed by a new constitution, things ought to change.
“You mean we can’t condemn anything when things are going wrong forever because at one point in time MCP abused the rights of the people? Is it justifiable? We switched from single party to multiparty democracy, the laws changed, the constitution changed and we’re supposed to play the game accordingly,” said Nancy Tembo, adding MCP is committed to the constitution and democratic values and everybody is expected to go by those values.
On demonstrations, Nancy Tembo said she failed to understand why Mutharika insisted on justifying the deposit, saying it is the responsibility of the police to maintain peace and order.
“Demonstrations are a right, the police are there to provide security to those that want to peacefully demonstrate; it is the responsibility of the police to protect citizens of this country,” Nancy Tembo said.
Efforts to contact Joyce Banda for her reaction proved futile as her phone and that of her spokesperson Ruth Govati could not be reached yesterday afternoon.