Activist Chanika hails JB, Kapito for boodless Malawi demos

Malawi’s renowned rights activist has saluted President Joyce Banda’s administration for not foiling the January 17 consumers’ anti-government protests, a development that resulted in a violence-free action.

Malawians on Thursday peaceably protested against immeasurable economic hardships that are characterized by soaring costs of living and other matters within the current administration.

Championed by the Consumers Association of Malawi (CAMA), the protestors, many of them wearing black, chanted anti-government songs as they lazily trooped to present petitions to President Banda through her representatives in all the country’ three regions.

But Emmie Chanika, Executive Director of the Civil Liberties Committee (CILIC), has commended the Head of State for not foiling the demos, which would have ended up in bloodshed.

Emmie Chanika: It is refreshning that peaceful demonstration against government had been held without bloodshed

Chanika further lauded the demos’ architect, John Kapito (CAMA executive director) for running the most peaceful demos, which she described as second best to the 3rd term bid of f ormer President Bakili Muluzi in 2004 which were also bloodless.

The vocal women rights campaigner also paid tribute to Malawians saying they were now understanding the tenets of demonstrations.

“People of Malawi have realized that demos are not to be turned into looting and destroying this fragile economy, and so they need a pat on the back too,” said Chanika.

She added: “And to Mr Kapito again for understanding security matters and humbly accepting change of the route because it’s not easy to do that as it dampens the mood of the march. For security to have behaved itself and not drive around like strutting cocks baying for blood, they need a smile from the whole nation.

“Time has changed indeed, from the time Bingu [former state president] would tell us he can disorganize us by organizing mayhem for a planned march, in our face too. Maybe Madame [Joyce Banda] can also add to her points by accepting to see people like Kapito and the likes of us, deemed crazy and confused by opportunist politicians.

“To Mrs Banda again, it shows a woman can hold her cool than the men we have had who were confronting and used threats.”

Chanika, however, only hoped that President Banda continues to be reasonable, democratic, hold her cool and remain sane and “also increase doing the right things to see her through 2014.”

On a lighter note, Chanika advised Banda not to always listen to politicians, particularly the recycled ones[ and ‘village idiots’], to avoid being misled.

University of Malawi Political Scientist, Mustafa Hussein, also applauded government for not standing on the way of demonstrators.

He however said the protests should serve as a wakeup call to the Banda administration.

“It is very unfortunate that the demonstrations are happening while the president hasn’t even finished a year in office. I think that shows that things are not good and government must do something to fix the country’s ailing economy,” he said.

Kapito said the peaceful demonstrations defeated what he called the “devil” the state machinery was trying to promote.

“The state has been using the so called Kunkuyu [Minister of Information] to preach about killings when we were talking about peace. They advocated for deadly scenes while we choose to put Jesus Christ in the front,” said Kapito.

In the seven-point petition, the protestors gave government a three-week ultimatum to respond to the issues or else they would be back on the roads “but in a different way.”

Among others, the consumers are demanding government to stop floatation of the kwacha, reduction of presidential and Cabinet travel, declaration of assets by the President, salary adjustments for workers in Malawi, Cabinet reduction, among others.

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