Today 1st September, 2020 in afternoon hours people glued to radios and television with much anticipation as the president of the country, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, was addressing the nation. It appears that Chakwera’s nation addresses attract much audience as compared to his predecessor. Is it because of his voice, which I can describe as chocolate to the ear or the promises he made during the campaign? Never mind that question. Today the good news is that General Vincent Nundwe has been reinstated as Malawi Defence Force (MDF) Commander.
Nundwe was sacked by the former president Peter Mutharika for allegedly not paying allegiance to the then DPP administration during protests against his reelection in the May 2019 general elections.
Protesters who took to the streets protesting the outcome of the polls reported enjoying support and protection of the army. Major opposition voices also spoke in glowing terms of the role the army was playing in the protests.
In several instances when the police and protesters had clashed, the army had stepped in to restore order and calm and protected demonstrators.
Nundwe declared that his “priority is to ensure that Malawi is sovereign as well as peaceful.”
But for the president Mutharika’s supporters, the army was soft on protesters and Mutharika responded by firing him. He was replaced by General Peter Namathanga.
It is, I suppose, against this background that most Malawians who fought for change of government are on cloud nine after receiving the news that Nundwe has been reinstated. It’s good news indeed and he deserves that rare honor by the current leader Chakwera. Congratulations are in order General Vincent Nundwe. Keep up the good job!
But as we are celebrating Nundwe’s comeback, the government of Reverend Lazarus Chakwera should also remember the role General Peter Mathanga played before and after the court sanctioned fresh presidential elections.
Looking at circumstances that led to the appointment of Namathanga, we can say with authority that Mutharika’s intention with the move was to put people from his home area in strategic positions to advance his personal and political interests.
Mutharika’s reluctance and arrogance to accept the Constitutional Court verdict combined with current revelation of corruption when he is out of government is a clear indication that Mutharika and his DPP cronies were destined for any action even if it meant bringing chaos in the country in their bid to cling to power.
But under General Peter Namathanga we witnessed peace before and after the court sanctioned elections. We may take it for granted and undermine the role that Namathanga played as we were so attached to a belief that Namathanga was a DPP puppet but Namathanga was key to that peaceful transition. The general also deserves an honour just like Vincent Nundwe. Following his appointment almost everyone held an opinion that he was assigned with a task to block the elections. But did Namathanga do that? Did he, at any point, portray traits of turning MDF into Mutharika’s entiry as per the DPP’s expectation? The answer is emphatically NO!
That is why I’m saying, without fear or favour, that General Namathanga also deserves an accolade as he is leaving the position of MDF Commander. I repeat, Namathanga is also a patriot and a hero just like General Nundwe.