DEMOCRATIC PROGRESSIVE PARTY PUBLIC STATEMENT ON POLITICAL PERSECUTION AND ARBITRARY POLITICAL ARRESTS

"Information reaching us indicates that the MCP Government will conduct more mass arrests of DPP and other opposition members, including the former President Peter Mutharika".

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) would like to bring to the attention of Malawians and the international community concerns over political witch-hunting, harassment and persecution against its members by the new Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Government of His Excellency President Reverend Dr. Lazarus Chakwera.

Malawians and the entire international community should take note that the MCP Government has embarked on a frightening hate campaign against DPP leaders and members, which include arbitrary arrests and dismissal from employment of perceived DPP sympathizers in the public sector, among others.

As a political party, which has always believed in the rule of law and good governance, we wish to condemn in the strongest terms the recent political arrests of senior and rank and file members of the party, notably Honourable David Kambalame, DPP Central Region Governor, DPP National Governing Council member Ngozi Harawa, Jomo Osman and Agape Nkhobe, by the MCP Government.

Information reaching us indicates that the MCP Government will conduct more mass arrests of DPP and other opposition members, including the former President His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, former First Lady, Madame Professor Gertrude Mutharika, Tadikila Mutharika, DPP Secretary General, Grezelder Jeffrey, Regional Governor, South, Honourable Charles Mchacha, DPP Director of Elections, Honourable Dr. Ben Malunga Phiri, DPP Spokesperson, Honourable Nicholas Dausi, DPP Vice President, Eastern Region, Honourable Bright Msaka, Honourable Symon Vuwa Kaunda, Honourable Mzomera Ngwira, Honourable Dyton Mussa, Honourable Leston Mulli, Honourable Joseph Mwanamveka and Professor Mutharika’s personal bodyguard, Norman Chisale; arrests bordering on politics.

We also wish to strongly condemn intimidation and harassment antics perpetrated against vendors and business persons perceived to be DPP and UDF sympathizers, notably those in Blantyre, Limbe, Lilongwe, Zomba, Ntcheu, Balaka, Liwonde, Nkhata Bay, Nkhota Kota, Karonga and Mzuzu.

As a government that has barely settled in the joystick of power, we fail to understand that its first act should be to arrest opposition members on politically-motivated charges. This is uncalled for and we wish to urge them to halt these political arrests and persecution.

On 23 June, 2020, Malawians voted in the historic fresh presidential election. The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) declared candidate for the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), His Excellency Reverend Dr. Lazarus Chakwera and his running mate, Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima, winners.

During his maiden speech as Leader of Opposition in Parliament on June 30, 2020, Honourable Kondwani Nankhumwa, MP, duly congratulated His Excellency President Reverend Dr. Lazarus Chakwera and State Vice President Right Honourable Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima for their victory.

Honourable Nankhumwa pledged opposition’s support to the new government as it embarks on the momentous task of managing the economy and re-uniting Malawians against a backdrop of serious tribal, ethnic and regional divisions.

Therefore, it comes to us as a huge surprise that instead of embarking on a serious social and economic transformation path, the new government of His Excellency President Reverend Dr. Lazarus Chakwera has embarked on a nefarious plan of arbitrary arresting and persecuting political opponents.

The Malawian political history presents a lot of free lessons to His Excellency President Chakwera and his administration. For over 30 years, between 1964 and 1994, the MCP committed serious atrocities against Malawians, including arbitrary arrest and detention without trial of perceived enemies of the MCP regime. Many people were killed and others fled into exile.

Malawians voted for change in June In 1993. We changed from a one-party dictatorship to democracy following a National Referendum. In May 1994, Malawians voted in a new UDF Government in multiparty elections.

A 2010 report by the British High Commission stated that Malawi had “made good progress on human rights since the introduction of multi-party democracy” in 1994, when Malawi's Constitution went into effect. The British report noted that Malawi's Constitution “protects fundamental rights,” that the country “has signed up to most international treaties,” and that there were “no political prisoners in Malawi jails as was the case during the one-party era.” It is therefore retrogressive and utterly unfortunate for the MCP to re-introduce one-party era politics of arbitrary arrests and political persecution.

Let us remind His Excellency President Chakwera that in 1993, Malawians opted for multiparty democracy where they would enjoy freedom of association, including belonging to a political party of their choice.

We are of the strongest view that the ongoing spate of arrests and political persecution is an attempt by the MCP Government to oppress voices of dissent and suppress the free political expression of the people.

We wish to request His Excellency President Chakwera and his administration that no more arrests be made and that those arrested on politically-motivated charges be released as promptly as possible.

For the restoration of peace and stability in Malawi after the recent political turmoil following the disputed 2019 presidential election, it is important for both the Government and opposition to reach out to one another and create a peaceful Malawi.

We call on Government and opposition to build mutual confidence and pursue dialogue to ensure political, social and economic development of the country, Malawi, which we all call HOME.

We call on the international community to immediately intervene and encourage the MCP Government of His Excellency Reverend Dr. Lazarus Chakwera to uphold the rule of law and good governance in line with international laws and governing standards.

Finally, we wish to assure all Malawians and the international community that being a duly registered political party in Malawi, the DPP has the right to defend Malawi’s hard-won democracy. We will resist any further attempts to intimidate the leadership of the party and its entire membership. We shall not be forced into political submission!

Honourable Gelzeder Jeffrey Honourable Nicholas Dausi

SECRETARY GENERAL PUBLICITY SECRETARY

4th JUNE 2020

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