Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika finally did what ‘sovereign’ nations are on record for doing to ‘rogue’ ambassadors. He declared British High Commissioner Fergus Cochrane-Dyet persona non grata and asked him to leave the country immediately.
And Mr Cochrane-Dyet’s offence was; a leaked cable to his bosses, which allegedly claimed the good Malawian leader was a combative president who was increasingly becoming autocratic and intolerant of criticism!
So is Mutharika becoming autocratic?
He is on record for calling upon his supporters to beat up his critics and some of who went into hiding after receiving alleged death threats.
In February, Malawi’s Inspector-General of Police Peter Mukhito summoned associate Professor of Political Science Blessings Chisinga, over an example he gave in class. Dr Chinsinga had allegedly said crises like Malawi’s current fuel and forex shortages could lead to uprisings like those that toppled governments in Tunisia and Egypt.
Lecturers reacted to the police summons by abandoning classes, demanding an apology and assurances of academic freedom from the police boss and the stalemate was still on, affecting learning. They were accusing President Mutharika’s administration of denying them the academic freedom by planting spies in classrooms.
Apart from some countries like Germany and US cutting aid to Malawi over human rights abuses and lack of observation of rule of law, other donors have constantly warned the southern African nation over the same. All these calls to avoid autocratic tendencies have been ignored, thanks to ‘we are a sovereign state’ rhetoric.