By Frank Jomo
Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika on 22 March rejected calls from faith groups that he resign following a political and economic crisis that has rocked the southern African nation.
A delegation of civil society organizations meeting at a national conference organized by the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) on 15 March demanded that Mutharika “resign honorably within 90 days or if he thinks he is still popular, he should call for a referendum within the 90 days. Failure to follow this will call for mass action.” Last year, the government cracked down on protesters demanding economic changes that would ease fuel and foreign-currency shortages.
However, speaking during a World Water Day Commemoration in Mangochi, 220 km (137 miles) south of the commercial capital of Blantyre, Mutharika said he is still popular.
“I am not a quitter. I will continue to run this country until 2014. I will not step down because the constitution of this country mandates me to run for a full five year term,” Mutharika said. He was first elected in 2004 and is in his second term.
PAC, an organization consisting of the Catholic Church, Church of Central Africa Presbyterian, Muslim Association of Malawi, Quadria Association Malawi and Pentecostal churches, insists it will present its communique to the president.
Citing “signs in our society that point to a crisis in political, economic and constitutional governance,” PAC in a communique said it was “inspired by [a] prophetic mandate, realizing that God does not change the conditions of people unless the people themselves show commitment to change them.” The group said it “did a serious introspection and critical analysis based on hard questions that need to be addressed if we have to reclaim our future as a nation.”
Mutharika said calls for his resignation were a non-starter as he was still loved by Malawians. He said even if he was wanted to run for a third term he would get votes.