Malawi Groups Warn Mutharika

Malawi civil rights groups have warned President Bingu wa Mutharika risks plunging the southern African country into chaos if ruling party cadets continue to incite violence ahead of the planned September 21 protests. The rights groups, engaged in a UN facilitated dialogue with government, sounded the warning at a news conference following the petrol bombing of outspoken activist Rafiq Hajat’s  Policy Interaction (IPI) offices . IPI is a local think tank which has been in the fore-front calling for Mutharika to explain his wealth, sale off his private jet and trim his 42 member cabinet among other demands. “All this is because of some statements our leaders make…such statements like the ones made by the President last week incite such violence and may threaten peace in the country,” said activist Voice Mhone. But the president’s spokesperson Hetherwick Ntaba yesterday shifted the spotlight on the rights groups themselves. “The NGOs are deliberately burning offices to destroy evidence of misuse of funds which the donors are querying,” Ntaba said. Ntaba challenged them to report to police. Undule Mwakasungula, another leading activist, said in an interview that reporting to police has not helped in any way. “We have reported a number of issues to police but nothing has come up in form of investigations and results as it were…My  offices for example were broken into and we reported to police and nothing has come out of that,” he said. The Weekend Nation is this weekend reporting that some suspected government sympathizers broke into the IPI office in Blantyre and set it on fire destroying computers and vital information. The guard for the office is missing and police are investigating the incidence. Malawi groups and President Mutharika are at daggers drawn. The groups want Mutharika to respond to their demands by September 21 or they go on the streets to protest. The first protests on July organized by the groups saw police kill 20 people in the country’s three major cities.