Malawi’s Mutharika refuses to step down

Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika on Thursday refused to step down as deadly anti-government protests entered a second day, insisting that the country was “properly governed”.

“I would continue to govern the country,” said Mutharika in a live address on national radio. “As mandated by the constitution, the authority to run government is in my hands and not any other person.”

Seven people were shot dead on Wednesday and dozens injured when police used live ammunition and teargas to break up nationwide protests against Mutharika, according to an activist who said he was identifying bodies at the mortuary.

Police have confirmed only one death during the protests, which accuse Mutharika of mismanaging the economy and trampling on democratic freedoms.

“The non-availability of forex and fuel shortages cannot be classified as a mark of poor governance or a failed state,” the president said. “Malawi is properly governed.”


Police waged running battles with activists on Wednesday in Blantyre, Lilongwe and the northern town of Mzuzu. Thousands of protesters returned to the streets Thursday in Blantyre and Lilongwe, with shops and banks closed for fear of looting.

Mutharika won plaudits after winning 2004 elections for reviving agriculture and ending a famine with a popular but expensive fertilizer subsidy programme.

But Malawi’s budget is now strained, resulting in foreign currency shortages that are hurting the economy, most visibly with a shortage of fuel that causes long queues at the pump.

In his second term, Mutharika has also taken steps to restrain the media, limit protests, and restrict lawsuits against the government, prompting the opposition to accuse him of taking a dictatorial turn. — AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

‘Courageous reinvention’: an extract from Mark Gevisser’s ‘The Pink Line’

In this extract from Mark Gevisser’s new book, Aunty, fleeing abuse and witchcraft, treks to northern Malawi

The secrets behind the success of Malawi’s opposition coalition

It took more than just a united front to unseat the governing party in the recent presidential elections in Malawi

Is WhatsApp shaping democracy in Africa?

A study shows that the social messaging platform is both emancipatory and destructive, particularly during election campaigns

Malawi’s new president defends controversial cabinet

Lazarus Chakwera’s post-election honeymoon did not last long

Consolidating democracy in Malawi: A case of recycled elite pacts?

Lazarus Chakwera’s ascent to the presidency was made possible by the nine-party Tonse Alliance, which included Mutharika’s former deputy, Saulus Chilima, as his running mate

Malawi celebrates independence day, but the first president left his mark

The historical record shows that Malawi’s difficulties under Hastings Banda were evident at the very moment of the country’s founding
Advertising

Sekhukhune’s five-year battle for water back in court

The residents of five villages are calling for the district municipal manager to be arrested

Fees free fall, independent schools close

Parents have lost their jobs or had salaries cut; without state help the schools just can’t survive

Vaccine trial results due in December

If successful, it will then have to be manufactured and distributed

White men still rule and earn more

Women and black people occupy only a few seats at the JSE table, the latest PwC report has found
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday