Malawians fault Mugabe on Zim crisis

Malawians who spoke to the Mail & Guardian this week said Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe should step down and that the situation in Zimbabwe “needs urgent attention”.

Timamu Muhajiri (77), a former employee at the Chirugwe mine in Zimbabwe, said from his base in Zomba district that he would not “advise any of my relatives to go to Zimbabwe this time. During the time we were there it was a good country to live in but not now.”

After 30 years working in Zimbabwe Muhajiri returned home four years ago with his wife, 10 children and five grandchildren. He said the pension he received from his former employer was not even enough to support his family.
“Take it or leave it, Zimbabwe is in a crisis. It is not the same country we enjoyed and worked in freely,” he said.

In the 1980s Malawi imported food and other products from Zimbabwe, but today it is exporting maize to feed hungry Zimbabweans.

In bars and bottle stores, in the streets and in minibuses Malawians discuss the Zimbabwe crisis. “Why is Mugabe clinging to power?” was a question posed by Steve Chithope, an employee with a NGO in Malawi: “Where is the UN, the United States and the United Kingdom? Do they want people to die and then send relief items to the dead?”

Chithope said that after South Africa and the SADC’s failure to stop Mugabe killing his own people, the United Nations should make its stand clear to Mugabe.

The situation in Zimbabwe has affected Malawian businesses, negatively. Charles Kwilamb, director of Crop Export Trading, told the M&G that his company has been affected “because we cannot send our products to Zimbabwe expecting to do good business there. Companies can invest only where the environment is stable. The best thing Mugabe should do is to step down.”

Bingu wa Mutharika, Malawi’s president whose late wife’s father was a Zimbabwean worker, has so far failed to condemn the Zimbabwean government, believing that the crisis there should be sorted out by Zimbabweans and not by outsiders.

But former president Bakili Muluzi has condemned the violence, saying that Mugabe should ensure that elections in his country are “free and fair”.

Some analysts argue that Muluzi’s condemnation of Mugabe is ill timed “considering that he has not retired from active politics and that he also wanted to prolong his stay in office by changing the Constitution”.

Political and administrative lecturer at the University of Malawi Mustafa Hussein said the situation in Zimbabwe was cause for concern.

“Our politicians should learn something from this crisis.” He said Malawi’s political problems could degenerate into a crisis like that in Zimbabwe “if our politicians are not careful”.

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