MAM Chair: We have to blame ourselves
The leadership of Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) has said claims that the administration of President Arthur Peter Mutharika was sidelining Muslims in his appointments were “misplaced” and lacked facts.
Sheikh Idrissa Muhammad , MAM’s National Chairperson said in an interview that majority of Muslims in the country have not been active in partisan politics, as a result, he said, this has worked against themselves when it comes to appointments.
“For a long time, a lot of Muslims have shunned politics, and this has contributed to their low representation be it in cabinet or in other influential positions, where appointment is political.
“What we need to understand is that these appointments are political in nature. We can’t change this. The president normally appoints people who supported him in one way or the other during elections. This is not new, it has always been there. We can’t blame the current president for this development. We have ourselves entirely to blame,” said Sheikh Idrissa.
He said: “And in situations where Muslims either support or join a party, they have en masse rallied behind one political party. Elections are very unpredictable as we have seen. If we support or belong to one party only, when that party fails to make it into government, our dreams and aspirations become shattered. Time has changed. Malawi is a democratic country. Muslims should be free to join political parties of their choice without let or hindrance just like all other Malawians. And through these parties, they should be free to contest for any positions, at the end of the day; we are likely going to see many Muslims appointed to various positions.”
The MAM leader said even the performance of Muslims in the May 20 Tripartite Elections was wasn’t “satisfactory”. Less than 20 Muslims made it to the 193-seat National Assembly.
He said unless they (Muslims) changed their mindset, these claims would sound genuine “to the ears of those who are not in the know.”
“Face this, when President Peter Mutharika assumed reins of power how many Muslims have been dismissed from their positions in the public merely on the basis of being Muslims? Nobody has been victimized because he or she is a Muslim, therefore, these claims are misleading, misplaced and lacking facts,” said Muhammad.
“We should learn to have facts whenever we are making any claims, otherwise, we could be blackmailing the president. We have to be truthful and honest in our claims. The problem is within ourselves and nobody else.”
Some quarters of the Muslim society have accused President Peter Mutharika of favoring Christians in his appointments.
In his 20-member cabinet, there is only one Muslim, Atupele Muluzi, who contested as the United Democratic Front (UDF) flag bearer in the Tripartite Elections. He came a distant fourth after the poll results.
In an interview before the elections, the Executive Director for Muslim Forum for Democracy and Development (MUSFORD) sheikh Alhaj Jaffalie Kawinga empathisized the need for an all inclusive government where both Muslims and Christians would serve on an equal footing.
“For so long, Muslims, have been sidelined in the day to day running of state affairs. Majority of Christians have been considered for top positions in government. Our hope is that the government coming after these elections would take Muslims on board,” he was quoted as saying.
Former President Bakili Muluzi rose against the barriers of religion to become the country’s first Muslim president in 1994. He served the country for a decade and stepped down in 2004 bowing down to demands of the country’s Republican Constitution which allows a sitting president to serve for a maximum of 2 consecutive 5 -five year terms.
The United Democratic Front (UDF) the party he co-founded has been largely followed by Muslims.
Muslims constitute about 36% of the country’s 16 million population. Islam is the second largest religion after Christianity.