Malawi President Bingu Wa Mutharika is coming under intense
criticism after he reportedly ordered heads of Lilongwe's diplomatic
missions to contribute towards his ruling party ahead of the May19 general
election. Reports in Malawi suggest that President Mutharika met heads of the
diplomatic missions, urging them to solicit funding for his ruling Democratic
People's Party ( DPP), and orchestrate the formation of powerful external
branches for the party. Some Malawians say the president's move politicizes and
undermines the fundamental impartiality of workers for the state. But the
government sharply denies the media reports. Mustapha Hussein is a political
science Professor at Malawi's Chancellor College in Zomba. He tells reporter
Peter Clottey that Malawians deserve to know who is financing Mutharika's
campaigning ahead of the election.
we heard so far is about a meeting he (Mutharika) held with the diplomatic
people. Probably he would want to mobilize some resources for campaign
purposes. But the story really hasn't made the headlines yet. All we hear is
about a meeting and probably seeking support," Hussein said.
said Malawians seem to be asking important questions that the government would
soon have to come out to answer.
think there are genuine concerns because indeed, his convoys have been very
spectacular, like brand new cars. So these are raising questions as to where
the money is coming from, whether it is budgeted, and actually, people are
curious to know," he said.
said the president is seen as compromising the diplomats who are expected to be
"Really, people are being
watchful and analytical of the situation because really, if the diplomatic
community gets involved in partisan politics, then it becomes a problem. The
issue really is that there must be a clear distinction between garnering
support for political or partisan politics. It really is a principle that needs
to be looked at because we don't expect people in government positions to be
using their positions for partisan gains," Hussein pointed out.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister, Joyce Banda, who is
also incumbent President Mutharika's vice presidential nominee in the upcoming
election, said it was up to the heads of missions to donate things or not,
adding they were not party functionaries . She said what they do with their
resources is their own business and nobody else's.
The general election is
expected to be hotly contested between incumbent President Mutharika and former
President Bakili Muluzi. Muluzi is constitutionally barred to stand in this
year's election after serving two consecutive terms as Malawi's leader from
1994 to 2004. But the former president maintains that he is eligible to
participate after he was unanimously voted to represent the opposition United
Democratic Front (UDF) in this year's election.
The Malawi Electoral Commission
recently barred Muluzi from running again, saying the constitution bars him
from participating in the vote. But the former president is challenging the
electoral commission's decision in court. A recent controversial poll shows
that incumbent President Bingu Wa Mutharika would win the general election.