Malawi will hold its next presidential elections in 2014 but, as MaraPost's Abel Wezzi reports, the political rhetoric is already getting hotter
LILONGWE—A senior leader of Malawi’s governing People's Party (PP) said Monday the former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was a pro-gay party and that its leader, Peter Mutharika, has “never been seen with a woman” in public.
“You have come here with your wife, the DPP leader has never been seen with a woman,” said Harry Mkandawire, PP’s Deputy Secretary General. “You just hear rumours."
Mkandawire, who once belonged to DPP which sacked him for criticising its leadership, didn’t elaborate.
Mkandawire spoke at the opening of a new soap manufacturing plant presided by Vice President Khumbo Kachali. He was apparently responding to comments made at Mutharika’s rally at Mzuzu stadium on Sunday to the effect that Pres Joyce Banda was ready to legalise homosexuality in Malawi.
Soon after assuming power in April following the sudden death of Pres Bingu wa Mutharika, Pres Banda said the southern African country should overturn laws that ban homosexual acts, which would make Malawi one of two African countries - South Africa is the other one - where homosexuality is legal.
In 2010, two Malawian men were sentenced to the maximum 14 years in jail after they declared their intention to get married. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-noon travelled to Malawi and met with Mutharika before the two were granted a presidential pardon.
Despite Pres Banda’s stance on homosexuality, it remains a hot-button issue in conservative Malawi.
Aware of the position of most Malawians on homosexuality, what did Mkandawire wish to accomplish with his remark on Peter Mutharika?
Currently, the DPP leader isn’t married. His wife of 30 years died and he has three grown children in the United States where he lived for decades before returning home to join politics.
While in Malawi, the former law professor is said to have been romantically linked with several women. The picture published with this report shows Peter Mutharika with a Malawian woman.
---©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment.