Retired leaders ask Muluzi, Tembo to abandon impeachment
by Joseph Langa, 24 December 2005 - 04:16:05
Former Sadc heads of state this week in South Africa advised their Malawi counterpart Bakili Muluzi and Malawi Congress Party leader John Tembo to drop impeachment charges against President Bingu wa Mutharika, two top MCP officials have confirmed.But Muluzi’s spokesman Sam Mpasu said in an interview on Thursday the former Sadc leaders should be worried about a president who breaks the law and not about impeachment plans.The MCP officials said in separate interviews the former heads—Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Joachim Chissano of Mozambique and Sir Ketumile Masire of Botswana—advised Muluzi and Tembo to consider dropping the matter because impeachment would not help a poor country like Malawi.One of them said the three leaders were supposed to come to Malawi for the talks in October during the last sitting of Parliament to convince Tembo and Muluzi against going ahead with the impeachment motion in Parliament.“The former Presidents pleaded with the two opposition leaders to drop the impeachment charges. They told them that the solution lay in discussing the matter amicably because they believe impeachment will not serve any purpose in a poor country like Malawi,” he said.The source said the group failed to reach a consensus during the telephone discussions they had but agreed to meet in South Africa to continue the talks.The other source also confirmed the trip was arranged after the former heads failed to come to Malawi and also after failing to reach an agreement through telephone discussions initiated by Masire.“They could talk on the phone for almost an hour but still failed to agree. Later, Masire who was coordinating the trip, told them to prepare discussion papers for a meeting in South Africa,” said the source.The source said during the SA meeting, the former heads urged Muluzi and Tembo to drop their impeachment charges whose discussion in Parliament were halted by a court injunction.The source also said that the former heads also advised Tembo separately to consider supporting Mutharika for the betterment of the country.MCP Deputy President Nicholas Dausi confirmed that Tembo left for South Africa last Saturday but he could not be drawn to comment on the purpose of his visit.“The President told me that he is going to South Africa but he said he is going there to see his children,” Dausi said. But a source in the Foreign Affairs Ministry said on Wednesday Muluzi and Tembo were in South Africa for mediation talks over the situation in Malawi. He said Mutharika was also expected to privately attend the talks. Another source close to the talks said as a condition for dropping impeachment, Tembo and Muluzi are said to have demanded a government of national unity. But Mutharika—whose party won all six seats in by-elections held on December 6—is reported to have said he preferred an early presidential election as the way forward to end the political bickering. But Tembo refused to comment when all this was put to him Friday, saying he would issue a statement later. Mpasu, who is also United Democratic Front spokesperson, could neither confirm nor deny that the former Sadc heads of state want the opposition to drop impeachment charges.“I can’t deny or confirm the issue. But the leaders should be worried about the President breaking the law and not impeachment,” said Mpasu, adding he hoped to know more later on Friday after being briefed by his boss.Tembo went with his party’s regional chairman for the Centre Betson Majoni and his shadow finance minister Respicious Dzanjalimodzi while Muluzi was accompanied by the party’s leader in Parliament George Nga Mtafu and his deputy leader Friday Jumbe.