Rick Dzida on Hard Talk interview with Burnett Munthali – Malawi24

FAM holds women’s leagues awards

Part 1

Good day Rick Dzida, Welcome to Malawi24 HardTalk interview

Question: You recently gave a national address on 21st March, 2024 in which you addressed a number of issues. Why did you give your national address the title: a better future for Malawi is possible? Do you really think a better future is possible for this country?

Answer: As a bonafide citizen of this country, I am very much concerned  that Malawi is not making any progress in all crucial public  sectors. This is the reason I decided to address the nation through various social media platforms.

However, despite all the challenges Malawi is facing, I have the hope that a better future for Malawi is possible if and only if we collectively put our heads together with a view of finding lasting solutions.

This is why you noticed, Burnett, that my national address was directed at various national stakeholders and key players.

Question: What actually came to your mind? Why did you think of making a public address?

Answer: I realised  that every citizen has a role to play for this country’s development. This includes right away from the State President down to a common man in the village.

To make  a formidable progress, all citizens must  collaboratively work together. It is against  this background that I decided  to make a public address.

In a nutshell, I believe Malawi problems  can be resolved through a holistic  approach.

Question: Your first issue of concern is political violence. Why do you think is the danger of political violence?

Answer: Political violence is a primitive  way of resolving political differences. It all backfires to poor leadership of respective political parties involved in the fracas.

Political violence is undemocratic as it also affects other innocent citizens who are not directly involved in the political disagreements.

You have noticed, Burnett, that some innocent people get injured during  political violence. Some looters take advantage to destroy and steal innocent people’s property. This  is a pathetic solution.

In 2020, we saw constitutional court judges being escorted to the courts in fear of violent protesters.  Do you wonder, Burnett, that  the court’s verdict was finally  in favour of the protesters?

Obviously, political violence undermines the democratic values which must be guarded at all cost. 

Question: What do you think constitutes political violence in Malawi?

Answer: In Malawi, political violence wears many forms. This includes physical, social, psychological and economic aspect.

Unfortunately, political violence in Malawi is only noticed when a victim is physically attacked by being beaten, stripped naked, chased away and many others.

Social violence also occurs when one is politically denied  access to social amenities.

Some politicians play with someone’s mind to politically  deprive one of their democratic rights in an attempt to canvas votes.

 Briefly let me give one example, economic political violence occurs in Malawi when a party dishes out money and handouts to influence voter’s decision.

Question: What are the real causes of political violence in Malawi?

Answer: In my view, nescience is the main cause of political violence in Malawi. High illiteracy levels, worsening economic situation and joblessness coupled with lack of knowledge of democratic values have exacerbated political violence in the country.

 Some years ago  Malawi witnessed what is dubbed judicial coup. In fact, it is also a  legal political violence. This is when the judicial system is politically manipulated to score a political point.

Question: Can you establish the solutions to the eradication of political violence in Malawi?

Answer: Fortunately, Burnett, we have a myriad of solutions to political violence at our disposal.

 For starters, political leaders must condemn any political violence perpetrated by their political party members. 

 Furthermore, political leaders must assist  the police to mete out justice to those who are promoting political violence.

 Mostly importantly, civic education is the most powerful tool that can dislodge political violence in Malawi.

Question: What do you think is the greatest danger that two major political parties in the country are involved in political fracas?

Answer: Statistics on the ground, Burnett, reveal that MCP and DPP are the only parties which will most likely  take over government in 2025.

 All political alliances  will have to include one of these two parties if ever they want to emerge victorious in 2025 Tripartite General Elections.

This implies that both MCP and DPP have massive political following and if they resort to fighting each other, it is like big elephants fighting while innocent grass is suffering. The big loser is the grass because for sure one elephant will emerge a victor.  This situation must be avoided at all cost.

Question: Why are you not putting a blame on any one political party in the Mbowe filling station political violence which MCP inflicted on DPP? Are you afraid to pin point who you think is the main culprit between the two parties?

Answer: It is unfortunate that  MCP as a ruling party is alleged to have orchestrated political violence at Mbowe filling station. It was supposed  to be  exemplary.  If that is the case, then President Chakwera as the leader of MCP must shoulder the blame.

I am not  afraid to pinpoint  the culprit of political violence. However, conflict resolution principles demand that the one who endeavours to resolve the conflict must not take sides.  Violence cannot be resolved at the same level it was created.

Question: You pleaded with President Chakwera and former President Mutharika to issue a formal statement against political violence. Why do you think they haven’t done so ever since this political violence happened?

Answer: Yes, you are right, Burnett. I did plead and I am still pleading with them now that  primitive politics has no place in Malawi.

I am glad that you are also aware that a plea is not a  directive.  

In my view, both President Chakwera and Prof. Peter Mutharika have not yet advised  their followers from inciting political violence due to politics of blame game.

 Both feel that by doing  so, then they may appear to the public that  they are admitting that their supporters are the perpetrators of political violence.

In the same vain of blame game politics, Peter Mutharika would feel justified to be quiet on this issue as his followers  were just defending themselves after they were attacked.

On the other hand, President Chakwera is likely to use a ‘You too fallacy card’ to remain quiet on the vice. 

You may recall during DPP’s regime, former President Mutharika  did not bother to advise his party followers from orchestrating political violence. One then wonders why shouldn’t President Chakwera do the same now?

However, my message is different. For the sake of peace , let all political leaders guide their followers to a fountain  of tranquillity.

Question: At one point Mutharika wanted to talk to Chakwera about the same. What do you think could have prompted APM changing his mind from discussing the matter with Chakwera?

Answer: The political landscape  has changed, that is my answer. You recall, Burnett, most Malawians thought Peter Mutharika would pave way to other presidential aspirants within DPP. 

This was the time when President Chakwera was receptive to discuss any political issues with the former president Peter Mutharika.

However, once APM disclosed  his bid to stand as a presidential candidate in 2025, President Chakwera took Mutharika’s stand  as a threat  to him. It is normal for contesters to fear one another.

 To be continued on Malawi24 in the next article

Do not miss the second part of the interview in the next issue.