Supporters of former Malawi President Bakali Muluzi are reportedly upset with President Bingu Wa Mutharika after he accused the former president of planning to overthrow him. Mutharika said he has uncovered a plot by Muluzi and supporters of the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) to topple his government using section 65 of the constitution. The section bars legislators from leaving parties that sponsored them into power and joining another party in Parliament.
President Mutharika is expected to lose out when the Speaker of parliament makes his ruling after several members of the opposition were allegedly lured to switch sides. Mustapha Hussein is a senior political science lecturer at the University of Zomba Chancellor College. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that some Malawians see Mutharika’s pronouncement as divisive, which he says could potentially undermine the ongoing peace negotiations between the government and the opposition.
“I would say there are mixed reactions in the sense that firstly, Malawians feel the anticipation to learn or to know more about this plot. Malawians have not heard about it before; they don’t have enough information about it. So, the revelation has created some sort of anticipation so that we can know the details or the truth of the matter. Secondly, it is a bit of disappointment in the sense that the revelation is coming in at the time when people have great expectations and hope in view of the negotiations that are taking place. So, the revelations are seen to be dampening the spirits regarding the outcome and what we should expect from the negotiations underway,” Hussein pointed out.
He said some Malawians are waiting to see what becomes of President Mutharika’s accusation.
“Since the revelation was made in public, we hope probably certain moves would be taken to pursue that allegation. But on the other hand, since people have seen not much progress have been made regarding the vice president’s case, Dr. Cassim Chilumpha, many people have viewed that probably this will end as mere politicking strategy to weaken the UDF or to intimidate the UDF,” he said.
Hussein said some Malawians are skeptical about the prospects of the peace negotiations between President Mutharika’s government and the opposition.
“There are those fears today in parliament. The leader of the opposition stated that they shouldn’t be blamed if the negotiations do not go well. And this was made in view of the fact that the issues that were discussed in the negotiations were revealed in public by the president. So that move is seen as one way of trying to undermine the confidentiality, and there are those fears that probably the opposition, particularly UDF representatives in the negotiations may not like what was said, and might start rethinking about their position. Nonetheless, there is that hope that since the negotiations are still going on, people will try or both parties will try to soften up and find a way of compromises,” Hussein noted.
The ongoing peace negotiations between the opposition and the government were reportedly called by President Mutharika to resolve the brewing political tensions in the Malawi parliament after opposition parliamentarians began an indefinite boycott of parliamentary activities over the failure of the speaker of parliament to rule on Section 65.