In Malawi, human rights and civil society groups are calling for the impeachment of President Bingu Wa Mutharika. Previously, these groups had opposed the efforts by the United Democratic Front to remove Mutharika on allegations ranging from abuse of office to misuse of funds. The group says impeaching the president will be a lasting solution to problems plaguing his administration. The government says others have tried before and failed.
Recently, the government of Malawi has experienced internal problems. The director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, Gustave Kaliwo, was suspended by President Mutharika for arresting former president Bakili Muluzi, but later Kaliwo resigned. Later, the president publicly demanded that the director of public prosecutions, Ishmael Wadi, resign for discontinuing the case against Muluzi. Human rights and civil society groups say they are irritated by the president’s refusal to meet with Kaliwo and Wadi.
The program manager of the Blantyre Synod Church and Society, Billy Mayaya, reportedly said Mutharika has put himself up for impeachment. He said his institution will support the impeachment process in order to protect the laws of Malawi and independent institutions put in place by the Constitution.
Justin Dzonzi, the chairman of the Human Rights Consultative Committee of Malawi, spoke with VOA English to Africa Service reporter Peter Clottey about the need for peace and dialogue.
“As human rights activists, we would want Malawi to maintain the heart of contact and dialogue, maybe before considering options such as the impeachment of the president. We believed that some of these issues could be resolved purely by talking about them, as opposed to taking the political process of impeachment. And the reasoning basically is that the process of impeachment would probably bring more chaos into the country, and maybe the benefit which would be gained thereby may be outweighed by…the cons against that decision.”
Dzonzi denies newspaper reports that quoted him as saying President Mutharika does not listen to anybody and that his organization will try to obtain recordings of meetings between Kaliwo and Mr. Mutharika and expose them to the public so that Malawians will know the kind of person they have as president.
He said, “However that not withstanding, we believe that the president is a politician and I think that one thing all politicians are scared of is losing popular support from the people. And we believe that through a process of engagement, direct engagement, the president may actually change on some of the issues, which are points of concern both to the civil society as well as the general public in Malawi.”
Dzonzi said, “Our Constitution is very clear on a lot of issues in terms of what you need to do and how you need to do it. In fact a lot of constitutional lawyers will [say] it’s one of the most detailed constitutions the world over. So there is no real basis for one not to do what the Constitution says. And when one doesn’t, it’s so clear and so easy for anybody to tell that this is not what the Constitution says. But then leaders come from the people, and if the people don’t speak to their leaders, the leaders may believe that what they are doing is right. And that is why basically we are saying, let’s maintain a contact and dialogue policy, speak to the leaders, tell them that this is wrong; this is the way this thing is supposed to be done. And we also do appreciate that democracy is quite new in Malawi. We may have the laws but people may not have changed their hearts and perceptions about political power. So it’s a learning process and the only way we can nurture our democracy is to make sure that all leaders abide by what the Constitution sets as a standard for governance.”
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