News24

Malawi 'risks becoming next Zimbabwe'

2011-07-30 12:00

Johannesburg - Malawi, once considered a southern African success story, risks going down the same road as regional basket case Zimbabwe, said the leader of recent anti-government protests that left 19 dead.

Undule Mwakasungula had been in hiding since security forces launched a violent crackdown to quell two days of demonstrations that erupted July 20.

Re-emerging in South Africa for a forum on Malawi held on Friday in Johannesburg, the chairperson  of the Human Rights Consultative Council - an umbrella organisation of rights groups that organised the protests -said Malawi is undergoing twin economic and political crises that are reminiscent of Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe.

"We are almost Zimbabwe, both in the economy and in political governance," Mwakasungula, who also heads the non-profit Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation in Lilongwe, told AFP in an interview.

He drew parallels between Mugabe and Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika, who has been criticised for a series of increasingly autocratic moves seen as restricting political freedoms.

"There are similarities in terms of their president and Bingu wa Mutharika, their style of leadership. They're both using a heavy hand in terms of their governance, in terms of how they want to rule. And also disregarding other branches of government - the judiciary, the legislature," Mwakasungula said.

Mutharika, who came to office in 2004, has been criticised for expelling rivals from the ruling party, expanding presidential power and signing laws that have restricted protests, media freedom and lawsuits against the government.

Another demonstration

The moves have alienated foreign donors, causing the United States and Britain to cut their aid to the impoverished country at the same time it is facing massive fuel shortages that have forced drivers to queue overnight for petrol.

Mutharika has also presided over a foreign exchange crisis that has seen international currencies become virtually unavailable, leaving businesses in the import-dependent country unable to buy goods and materials abroad.

"Malawians right now are frustrated," Mwakasungula said. "Malawians are disgruntled in terms of how the country is being governed, how the economy is moving. They want to have more voice."

The day of the demonstrations, Mwakasungula says he and his fellow organisers were rounded up and beaten by police at the church in Lilongwe where they had gathered to monitor the protests.

"It was a fracas. The police were just brutal. They were just animals, really," he said.

Mwakasungula said he was briefly detained, then released to get medical attention. Afterward, he went into hiding.

But he said he plans to return home and organise another demonstration, even though his lawyers have told him there is a warrant out for his arrest on treason charges - which carries the death penalty in Malawi.

"I have to go home. If you want to make things change, there has to be change in the country, not outside," he said.

"I was not part of this organising just for the sake of my own interest, but for the sake of making sure that Malawi becomes a better place."

Comments
  • Met - 2011-07-30 12:15

    While he is in SA, he must take a good look around him- not just on the surface.SA is much the same as Zimbabwe was in 1995 and by 2001, turmoil.Do not forget that Zim initially, was presented to White South Africans, an example of what SA can become. Ironically, I only believe them now- we are well on our way there.

      marco - 2011-07-30 13:40

      40 percent of Malawi’s development budget comes from overseas donors.Iran just gave cash-strapped Malawi $50m for mining their uranium,which shows you where Iran's president Ahmadinejad and Malawi's Mutharika priorities lies.The current protests are apparently about the high cost of living in Malawi.It's not looking good for Malawi at the minute either as America had just put on hold a $350 million aid package towards their energy sector.An audit of President Bingu wa Mutharika's personal finances were requested by the protesters,but the president has sworn in official statements to "smoke out" anyone who opposes and challenges him.Sounds alot like MALEMA to be honest.Mutharika called the protest leaders "thugs and sons of Satan"-can you imagine that. The same K@K goes on in Uganda and Senegal.In Uganda apart from political corruption and rising food prices,protesters contested President Yoweri Museveni's age which would allow him to run for another term in office. In Senegal supporters of long-ruling President Abdoulaye Wade and his numerous detractors clashed in the streets in the wake of Wade's announcement that he intended to run for reelection in 2012.Questions remain over whether the 85 year-oldfart president's candidacy,who by the way has been in power since 2000,violates their constitutional term limits.

      Met - 2011-07-30 13:56

      Three thumbs down? Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but how can you disagree with hard facts- its not my opinion

  • Marcell - 2011-07-30 12:17

    Malawi is in Africa. Enough said.

      ZotBot - 2011-07-30 14:04

      Ja, it's funny how the insecure 'Africans' always cry about being conquered and colonised. But they themselves have never conquered anyone. They all still stuck in Africa. They didn't even know what a boat was until the 'whites' got here. In fact, they hadn't even invented the wheel !!! Fact !!!

      ZotBot - 2011-07-30 14:10

      The BIGGEST problem with Africa, is that African's don't see the need to change. If whites give advice or suggest a better way, the blacks think they're being colonised and start shouting 'racism', 'imperialists', blah blah. Good advice is good advice, it isn't colour coded. Africans are behind because they refuse to listen to anything 'white'. So they are there own worst enemies cause they are so arrogant and shut off from accepting a different point of view. IDIOTS !!!

      Kunta-Kinte - 2011-07-30 14:15

      That is because Africans have been listening to your advice for the past 400 years and look where that landed them. Even today institutions like the IMF and World bank are still giving fukced up ideas to Africa.

      Met - 2011-07-30 14:29

      Kuna-Kinte- No, what the IMF has said when they lend money to an African country is that the polticians must not steal it and after 50 yrs or so, the Africans "still dont understand" that

      Met - 2011-07-30 14:33

      ZotBot- you are wrong- the Africans have colonised. They colonised SA when they moved here from the north and took land from the San and the Hottentots. But they dont like to hear that

      cliffarc - 2011-07-30 15:22

      - Kunta - And all the glaring evidence proves that you are clueless . With that outlook and belief, you are a part of the problem Africa has.

      tryanything - 2011-07-30 15:24

      In the culture

      Kunta-Kinte - 2011-07-30 17:16

      You are all clueless when it comes to the IMF and its Structural Adjustments Programmes(SAP)regarding loans to under-developed countries. You should not let your hangups get the better of your faculties. Richard Peet: Unholy Trinity: The IMF, World Bank and WTO.

      Marcell - 2011-07-31 02:14

      @Kunta. Why look for handouts from the IMF or WB? Create your own luck in life.

  • Mercenary - 2011-07-30 12:44

    African cycle: .....want,want,want....have.have....dont have....want... want... want

      Creeky - 2011-07-30 13:30

      Only thing GOOD asbout Malawi, is their DOPE! Malawi Gold, sold in COBB format, has to be some of the BEST DOPE in the World. Export that, and Malawi will be one of the WEALTHIEST COUNTRIES IN AFRICA!!!!

      Met - 2011-07-30 13:40

      Creeky- have you seen the devastation caused to human lives by drugs?

      Liberty - 2011-07-30 16:04

      When you don't have you place both hands together in front of you and form your hands into a cup. That's called the African salute.

  • Wynand - 2011-07-30 12:51

    Got news for you. Yes they are on their way to "Zimbabwe." So is dearest South Africa!!!!!!

  • Grayman - 2011-07-30 12:51

    The "warm heart" of Africa is fast becoming the "wet fart" of Africa.

      Creeky - 2011-07-30 13:20

      CHIRP OF THE DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • veld66 - 2011-07-30 13:10

    There is a pattern in these strange comments,,,Only one particular Group of People!!!!!!

      Creeky - 2011-07-30 13:30

      HAHAHAHAHA!!! Not MENTIONING which group now... are we? LOL!

      darkwing - 2011-07-30 13:31

      Yes, the white people. We see what's happening. Black people don't, not even when the UN has to call on the world to help.

      ZotBot - 2011-07-30 14:06

      It's only cause blacks don't have internet at home on weekend, they use their white bosses' computers to comment all week.

      Sizwe - 2011-07-30 16:11

      @Zotbot. Well since Im here (online from my own home) can you please retract your statement...

      Marcell - 2011-07-31 02:17

      Perhaps it is stolen? Sorry, I retract that.

  • Ldn_saffa - 2011-07-30 13:12

    ....and the queue just gets longer......

  • Rapier - 2011-07-30 13:19

    African Cycle = Bi-Cycle = Baie-sukkel

  • Creeky - 2011-07-30 13:20

    Most AFRICAN countries NORTH of the Limpopo are LIKENED to Zimboland... The country SOUTH of the Limpopo is the FASTEST to BECOMING WORSE than Zimboland!!!

  • Gotterdammerung - 2011-07-30 13:20

    I was in Zambia for about a week and spent two days close to the Malawi border - there is a very well kept and closely guarded secret in Malawi. Zim troops have been deployed inside of Malawi who was instrumental in the violence that followed the protests. People fleeing across the border talk of the CIO interrogating anti-government protester. Expect a DRC and Sudan type raping of resources from Mugabe and the JOC

      Ross - 2011-07-30 13:26

      How many Zim. CIO's are there over here?

      Gotterdammerung - 2011-07-30 13:32

      @Ross I am not sure how many Zim troops have been deployed but it has to be quite a few. Stories about what the Zim troops have been doing is rife - even in Lusaka. As for the CIO - who knows?

  • Kunta-Kinte - 2011-07-30 13:21

    Howat Berger Johannesburg - "Malawi, once considered a southern African success story," When and how has Malawi ever been considered a success story? Offcourse any African country that acquiscents to western hegemony is considered a success in the eyes of western governments.

      Met - 2011-07-30 13:58

      Repeat in English please

      tryanything - 2011-07-30 15:16

      It used to be the breadbasket of africa under Banda. He ruled with an iron fist but he knew what he was doing....Democracy does not work in Africa F+K .

      croix - 2011-07-30 15:28

      Take some type of medication/muti/dope/calmettes. You seem out of sorts neh? Take off the blinkers and face FACTS.

      Kunta-Kinte - 2011-07-30 17:47

      Is democracy working in the west? Did the westerners vote the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and now in Libya. Have the westerners voted for the austerity measures currently being undertaken in their countries. Did they vote for their governments to bail out the corrupt banks. Intellectually naive and challenged people are unfortunately under the illusion that having elections and a so-called "free press" constitute proof of non-dictatorship credentials.

  • Ross - 2011-07-30 13:25

    A quick comparison: GDP. Water rich Malawi US$ 12.0 Billion GDP. Water scarce Israel US$ 200.0 Billion

      Kunta-Kinte - 2011-07-30 13:44

      The Israel youth currently demonstrating in that country don't appear to be too much impressed with the figures you qoute. How much of US and western aid has Israel received over the years and what conditions have western governments imposed on Israel in accepting this aid.

  • marco - 2011-07-30 13:40

    40 percent of Malawi’s development budget comes from overseas donors.Iran just gave cash-strapped Malawi $50m for mining their uranium,which shows you where Iran's president Ahmadinejad and Malawi's Mutharika priorities lies.The current protests are apparently about the high cost of living in Malawi.It's not looking good for Malawi at the minute either as America had just put on hold a $350 million aid package towards their energy sector.An audit of President Bingu wa Mutharika's personal finances were requested by the protesters,but the president has sworn in official statements to "smoke out" anyone who opposes and challenges him.Sounds alot like MALEMA to be honest.Mutharika called the protest leaders "thugs and sons of Satan"-can you imagine that. The same K@K goes on in Uganda and Senegal.In Uganda apart from political corruption and rising food prices,protesters contested President Yoweri Museveni's age which would allow him to run for another term in office. In Senegal supporters of long-ruling President Abdoulaye Wade and his numerous detractors clashed in the streets in the wake of Wade's announcement that he intended to run for reelection in 2012.Questions remain over whether the 85 year-oldfart president's candidacy,who by the way has been in power since 2000,violates their constitutional term limits.

  • dare.myburgh - 2011-07-30 14:05

    And the black blanket has fallen over Africa,good by dark africa your determination has succeed to destroy what was built

  • Kunta-Kinte - 2011-07-30 14:17

    This would have to be one of the silliest threads on News24.It has brought out all the loons. Must be a full moon.

      Liberty - 2011-07-30 16:14

      Oh you just can't handle the truth.

  • Worker - 2011-07-31 05:31

    And then ..... South Africa will follow downhill to where the rest of Africa is. Ask Nigerians what they think of the infrastructure of this country, and you will realise how well equipped we WERE in 1994. Sadly, that is ALL being destroyed by politicians who are not really interested in the welfare of the people, just their own back pockets and families. What a copy of the rest of Africa. THOSE WHO DO NOT LEARN FROM THE PAST ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT. One African success story - yes - GREED.

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