Wednesday, December 10, 2008

(NYASATIMES) Malawi degenerating into ‘Mugabeism’ claim opposition

COMMENT - Do they quite understand what 'mugabeism' is, or is this a cheap attempt to get international attention? If so, they should pay attention to which international support they are appealing to. Because unless they are taking away rights from western corporations, they should prepare to be ignored.

Malawi degenerating into ‘Mugabeism’ claim opposition
Josh Ashaz
09 December, 2008 01:18:00

Malawi is reverting to dictatorship under Mutharika

Malawi opposition politicians, lawyers, analysts and human rights activist are sending a sharp alert to the international community that the southern African country is degenerating into brutal dictatorship similar to the Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.

The alert comes after a continued crack down on opposition leaders who are critical of President Bingu wa Mutharika an ally of Mugabe. Malawi is set to hold presidential and parliamentary polls, May 19, 2009.

On Monday morning police arrested New Republican Party (NRP) president Gwanda Chakuamba for critical remarks he made against President Mutharika at a political meeting the central district of Nkhotakota.

Earlier, security forces had detained president of Maravi People’s Party (MPP) Uladi Mussa at a road block as he was coming from a political meeting and released him without charge.

Both leaders and their parties are in an electoral alliance with the United Democratic Front (UDF). They are backing the presidential candidature of former president Dr Bakili Muluzi.

UDF-alliance spokesman Humphrey Mvula said government has launched a dangerous crusade against democracy.

“Government is using archaic laws to suffocate democratic principles,” said Mvula.

He said Chakuamba has been arrested for “a stupid case”.

“A ruling party legislator and deputy minister Ellock Maotcha is on record to have said Muslims in Malawi are Al Qaeda but nothing happened to him after the remarks,” said Mvula.

“Several times the President has incited the public during political meetings to revolt against opposition leader Hon John Tembo and UDF parliamentary leader Hon George Ntafu,” the spokesman pointed out.

NRP vice president Ken Zikhale N’goma who served as Mutharika’s first State House Chief of Staff said the President is copying Mugabe’s autocratic style of leadership.

“Government is intimidating the opposition. Its oppression and the style of leadership being copied is Mugabeism,” said Zikhale who once was a close confidante of Mutharika.

“We are moving towards Mugabe regime. Freedom of expression has been deleted deliberately,” he said.

MPP president, Mussa said Mutharika who he served as Agriculture Minister and vice president of the ruling party before he got the chop is practicing “dictatorship”.

“Government of Mutharika is using scare tactics against leaders of opposition so that we stop conducting political meetings in the run up to the general elections,” said Mussa.

“They are affecting more arrests to opposition politicians to sew panic and intimidate us. That is total dictatorship like Mugabe,” he said.

Renowned human rights lawyer Viva Nyimba said he had no much information on Chakuamba’s arrest because he is preoccupied with his legal business in Dwangwa but said it was against the spirit of freedom of speech to arrest people for public utterances.

“It is going too far. How many people are they going to arrest? We are totally going towards dictatorship,” said Nyimba.

Nigel Mwalweni a human rights campaigner said the case of Chakuamba was a misdemeanor.

“In any case, if Chakuamba indeed incited the people, were there any disorder following his alleged speech? It smacks of political vendetta against opposition leaders,” said Mwalweni.

He explained that if found guilty Chakuamba can be given a maximum of five years imprisonment but likely he would get a fine and a suspended sentence.

Commenting from Ghana where he went to study the electoral process, political scientist Pofela Nyekanyeka said it was “sad chapter” for Malawi to suffocate freedom of speech.

“Malawi is killing the birth right to free speech and those that are bold enough to express that right risk to lose freedom after that exercise,” said Nyekanyeka.

He said President Mutharika is practising what Mugabe style of dictatorship.

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