President Peter Mutharika has opted out of the Presidential debates scheduled for the end of March and April 2019, governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) secretary general, Grezelder Jeffrey, confirmed Wednesday.
“The party has come at the decision because it has reservations about [sic] the integrity of the organisation [sic] of the debates,” Jeffrey says in a statement.
The statement, however, says the DPP would use other channels to communicate its development programmes to the nation and how it is attending to the welfare of Malawians.
“The DPP also encourages all Malawians to keep engaging with the party as we work together to move Malawi from poverty to prosperity,” it reads.
Debates taskforce organising committee chairperson, Theresa Ndanga, said the debates are not being organised by individual media houses as is the case with those for running mates.
“The taskforce organising the presidential debates comprises of various organisations including Misa [Media Institute of Southern Africa- Malawi], NDI [National Democratic Institute] and several media houses, including MBC [Malawi Broadcasting Corporation]. So, we will continue engaging them so that they understand the composition of the taskforce and the importance of participating in the debates. For us, this is a continuous process and will continue engaging them,” she said.
Meanwhile, presidential running mates from Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Sidik Mia, People’s Party (PP) Jerry Jana and UTM’s Michael Usi were Wednesday taken to task by Times host Brian Banda and rights’ activist Fungai Mutsinze on their plans for people with disability once voted into power in the May 21 Tripartite Elections.
The three met during a panel discussion which Times Group organised with support from Federation of Disability Organisations in Malawi (Fedoma).
During the discussion, the presidential running mates were pressed on what they would do to promote the welfare of people with disability in education, healthcare, employment and security of all people and specifically people with albinism in the country.
“The PP has a track record of delivering what we promise. It was during our time that the Disability Act was passed and we are saying that we will make sure that people with albinism are part and parcel of formulating policies that concern them,” Jana, running mate to former president Joyce Banda’s in the PP, said.
Mia said his party has demonstrated that it has the welfare of people with disability at heart by having people with various degrees of disability run for positions.
“So far, we are the only ones who have a manifesto and our manifesto is clear that people with disabilities must be assisted in agriculture, business, healthcare and security. Their rights have always been there but there is a lack of political will which we, the Malawi Congress Party, are bringing,” he said.
Usi said his party believes that people with disability have capacities that only need to be nurtured.
“We are saying that we will be working with them in whatever we do. They will be advising us because they are able. There will not be a time they will have to camp at State House to demand their rights,” he said.