Malawi President threatens critics amid civil society ‘buy out’

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Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika has issued a clarion call on his political party supporters to take arms and defend him against protestors and critics.

Civil society leaders and citizens in the southern African country have upped their criticism over Mutharika’s policies.

Reports say, Mutharika made the call for his supporter to take arms and defend him against protestors and critics on Sunday (March 6) while addressing a rally in Blantyre.

Mutharika told party supports that founding president Kamuzu Banda and his immediate predecessor Bakili Muluzi were defended by party loyalists during times of attacks, hence they should extends that to him.

“During the MCP and UDF eras, it was not Kamuzu or Muluzi who went in the streets beating up those who insulted them, it is the duty of the ruling party… so what are you doing?” Mutharika is quoted saying.

“It’s normal anywhere else in the world for the party to protect its leaders” he added.

Mutharika is facing criticism from the civil society, the church, the media and international donors.

The southern African country relies on foreign donors to fund about 40 percent of its budget.

“I am not stupid for being quite. I’m not stupid, I have never been stupid and I don’t intend to be stupid. I have a job to run this country,” he added.

Civil society leaders should be the first to face the “disciplinary” attack because they were disrespectful to him, he suggested.

Mutharika’s second five-year term in power ends in 2014 but there is growing speculation that he would seek another term.

In February, rights activist were detained by police to stop a march called to protest fuel shortages in the impoverished southern African country.

Mutharika’s threats comes at a time when civil society claim to have unearthed underhand operations to ‘buy out’ some influential activists to fight and counter the country’s civil and human rights society.

In a joint communiqué released on Sunday (March 6) civil society wrote: “We demand an equivocal and immediate complete stop by Government and its agents to summoning civil society leaders with a view to entice them to suppress all legal and meaningful civil society demands and actions”

The rights campaigners say they are deeply concerned that government is using former civil society leaders to provide the Mutharika’s regime with a list of influential activists to be enticed with ‘unlimited offers.’

“We are aware that over eight meetings with some of the civil society leaders has already taken place and that more have been lined up for similar reasons.”

“Some are short listed for appointments into mainstreamed government
structures and diplomatic missions,” reads the statement.

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