In Malawi, President Bingu Wa Mutharika’s government says it has the mandate to protect and prevent subversion of the constitution. Critics of the government have accused Mutharika of wanting to return the country to a one-party state by weakening the opposition ahead of next year’s elections. They say the recent wave of arrests of opposition members over allegations of plotting to overthrow Mutharika is a calculated attempt by the government to silence any dissenting views. From the capital, Lilongwe Minister for Internal Security Ernest Malenga tells reporter Peter Clottey that the coup plot is aimed at sneaking former President Bakili Muluzi back into power.
“If we are talking of the issues which revealed the coup plot recently, the case at hand, the matter, is still under investigation. Now for someone to conclude that this is hallucination, I don’t know who is really under hallucination. Maybe the one with the idea that this is hallucination is the one who is hallucinating because we are talking of the coup which is being investigated after getting the details of what was being planned to be done, and I wouldn’t describe that as hallucination,” Malenga pointed out.
He reiterated that the government has the responsibility of preventing any attempt at subverting the constitution.
“In a country where law is enforced, we are supposed to follow up with everything according to the law and according to the constitution of the country,” he said.
Malenga described as mere petty politics the accusation that President Mutharika is to blame for the political impasse in the country.
“Anyone who says that the president is digging his own grave perhaps is an extreme opponent of the administration, which is doing very well in the development of this country. But the one who was the president of this country wants to get back into government through the back door,” Malenga noted.
He accused former President Muluzi of being a source of continuing tensions in the country.
“He made himself chairman of the United Democratic Front when the country has a state president. He decided to throw spammers in the works by saying ‘I would be the national chairman’ so that he would still control the government machinery. And you can’t have two leaders in one state. That has never worked anywhere, so there is more to it than meets the eye,” he said.
Malenga said the government is serious about national security.
“The security you are talking about and the opposition you are talking about, both sides would like to win the elections come 2009. Now, matters of security here, you don’t prepare them because you don’t pre-empt security measures. It is not workable. You don’t tail a thief to know his movements or her movements,” Malenga noted.
He said the only solution to bringing down tensions in the country is for voters to decide in next year’s election who is best fit to run the country.
“There have been tensions between government and the opposition for the past four years. Yes there is a way. We go to the polls and have the views of the public of the Republic of Malawi. That is the only way,” he said.