The Muslim Supreme Council and two Non Governmental Organisations, National Elections Systems Trust (NEST) and Centre for Women in Conflict and Development, have expressed disappointment at the way the country’s First Lady Gertrude Mutharika was negatively portrayed at last week’s United Transformation Movement’s political rally held at Njamba Freedom Park in Blantyre.
The Muslim council leadership and two NGOs held separate news conferences in Blantyre to speak on the matter.
At a press conference held at Misesa in Limbe on Saturday, August 4, NEST and Centre for Women in Conflict and Development made reference that Calista Mutharika at UTM rally described Gertrude Mutharika as “uneducated and not fit to be the first lady of this country.” during the July 29 rally at Njamba Freedom Park.
“We National Elections Systems Trust, in conjunction with Centre for Women in Conflict and Development, would like to share our disappointments of hate speeches targeting the First Lady of the Republic Madam Gertrude Mutharika,” NEST’s Executive Director Unandi Banda told reporters, joined by CWCD executive director Carol Mvula.
“For those who might have have missed it, the former First Lady Callista Mutharika castigated Her Excellency Gertrude Mutharika during their political rally at Njamba in Blantyre. As a former first lady she was supposed to be the last to be embraced with hate speeches.
“It should be made clear here that Madam Gertrude Mutharika is not a politician and does not have any political platform and thus, she should not be subjected to such ridicule.”
The two NGOs made reference that Madam Gertrude is apolitical and that her efforts are solely for development purposes.
“As you are aware, the country’s First Lady Gertrude Hendrina Mutharika, launched Beatify Malawi Trust (BEAM) on 13 September 2014 and since then she has been busy championing the organisation to fullfill its objectives.
“Madam Mutharika has also been busy with campaign of a Global Poverty Project, an arm of the World Bank to increase global and political voices to achieve commitment and action to end poverty at least by 2030.
“Of late, we have seen her doing an addition job of preserving the girl child through the launch of ‘My clean School my Pride’ campaign, an initiative that aims at promoting good sanitation practices and create environmental conscious minds among school going children in the country especially for the girl child.
“Malawi, being the party to The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), an advisory declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, we should be geared to protect individual freedoms.”
The two NGOs jointly continued to say that as the country is approaching the 2019 polls, they are calling all associates in political circles to safeguard democracy by respecting rights of the women and other people especially people who have no political platforms.
“As gender activists we are calling upon fellow women to desist from defaming other women to avoid being seen as couriers of pull her down syndrome,” Mvalo said.
And at another press conference on Saturday in Blantyre, the Muslim Council leaders – chairperson Yasin Katungwe and secretary Imran Katona – claimed that Callista and UTM acting secretary general Patricia Kaliati in their speeches mentioned about a First Lady who went to school at St. Mary’s Girls Secondary in Zomba and allegedly failed her Malawi School Ceryificate of Educatuon (MSCE) examinations.
They said thus was a direct reference to the current First Lady who was educated there.
But Kaliati dismissed that she is dragging First Lady into politics, saying she only commented on what the former first lady Callista had said about the information she got from the school.
“I only commented on her exposure. I din’t know about it [Firs Lady failed MSCE]until [Callista] mentioned,” said Kaliati.
And Callista said she didn’t mention anybody’s name and wondered how the organisations ahve concluded that it is the current First Lady who failed MSCE.
Former President Bakili Muluzi, at the United Democratic Front (UDF) convention at Comesa Hall in Blantyre, also made reference to UTM’s style of castigating people, saying such hate speeches have no place in Malawi’s modern democracy.
NEST is an NGO registered under Trustees Incorporation Act and is mandated to check what is happening ahead of the 2019 polls.