A Special My Take On It; Former First Lady Callista Mutharika is protected by Constitution; President must protect this institution

Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; and my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.

Exodus 22:22-24

The institution of the First Lady, an office one assumes as spouse of the State President, is an institution that is spoken of in the Republican Constitution of Malawi. None can declare themselves First Lady, any more than any one professes to have the power to remove a First Lady. This of course is unless the President spouse divorces the said First Lady.

Among the tenets of the Constitution is freedom of speech, the right to life, and freedom of association. The jealous protection of these and a cocktail of other components that guarantees equally of all Malawians and residents in Malawi, is squarely in the hands of the State President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika.

One of the many roles the President has, is the safeguarding of the Constitution, ensuring that all persons within the borders of Malawi, are accorded the same rights under the Constitution.

As the remaining patriarch of the Mutharika family, President Mutharika is also the overseer of persons under the ambits of the Mutharika clan.

This week both these tasks put President Mutharika to the test. On Tuesday, former First Lady, Madame Callista Mutharika took to the airwaves and made a proclamation that challenged the President’s bid for re-election. In the outburst Mde Mutharika said she would prefer Mutharika’s Vice President Saulos Chilima to be the DPP candidate; he is younger than the soon-to-be 80-year old President.

While many weighed in to either support or criticized, many stood on the sidelines watching out the drama of the former First Lady and albeit also in-law of the sitting President.

I’ve always admired and held in the highest esteem the political person Aleke Banda, former minister of information, tourism, finance and agriculture in Kamuzu Banda Government and Bakili Muluzi Government. In the face of criticism, Aleke Banda was all smiles, even to reporters that called him unflattering names.

Back to the present, in the midst of former First Lady pronouncement that have gone viral on social media, the life of Madame Callista Mutharika has been threatened by an unknown male. His message is crude and telling of what political party die-hards do to errant female members of the party. She has been threatened with the dog’s injection. One only needs to use the imagination, and easily conclude that this is a death threat.

The message, also viral and passed from whatsapp to Twitter to Facebook. The message has unearthed highly volatile bat and volleys that are alarming. The disrespect leveled at the person of the former First Lady, coupled with the notion that she can be stripped of her title because she has dared to voice a different opinion is unacceptable in our democratic dispensation.

The silence from the offices of the President, the acting Inspector general of Police and other law enforcement agencies in the country, is equally alarming. How safe are Malawi citizens when a high-profiled persona as a former First Lady is viciously attacked in the debasing manner as portrayed in the message?

On the heels of the silence from State House, both from State President and brother in-law failing to fulfil his traditional role of protector of all members of his family. The icing on the cake of this voluntary discarding of one’s in-law, is holding a memorial service for late President Bingu wa Mutharika, without his widow, former First Lady.

It is not the place of this forum to dictate to the State President how he handles issues that surface in his family, however because he is the President of the Republic, what he does or does not do, impacts on us as much as it does for the former First Lady.

It is numbing to think, as tearful it still must be to lose one’s husband, and then not to be invited to his memorial service. This quandary is complicated by DPP zealots who’ve taken it upon themselves to threaten the life of the widow of a President’s widow. This is as disrespectful to the widow as it is disrespectful to the departed President Bingu wa Mutharika.

The purpose of this special My Take On It is to request the sworn testimony from the President, to promise to all Malawians that the former First Lady, Madame Callista Mutharika’s safety is guaranteed. This is your role as President of the Republic. Protect all residents in the country.

This column demands that the police and other security details of Malawi are dispatched to safe guard Madame Callista Mutharika’s life. Lastly Madame Mutharika should not be intimidated but be allowed to speak freely as guaranteed by the Constitution. The Police should investigate anyone who threatens the lives of any person in any way during this campaign season and beyond. Malawi must be truly free. Police MUST act against deviants acting on behalf of their political parties.

This Special My Take On It is also to request the First Lady Madame Gertrude Mutharika, to protect the institution of the office of the First Lady through supporting all women, any woman. M’am you should be the soft voice in your husband’s ears – the President’s ears. You will need such a soft voice into the First Citizen’s ears when you too become a former First Lady.

Long live genuine democracy!

Janet Zeenat Karim

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