Activists hail ‘village idiot’ Kaliati: Championed protection of vulnerable Malawians

Former information minister Patricia Kaliati will remain as one courageous “village idiot” who made efforts to fight child trafficking through strengthening legislative measures, activists have said.

Talkative Kaliati was praised by anti-trafficking expert and advocate Habiba Rezwana Osman for her concerted effort to have the 2010 Child Care and Justice Protection Bill enacted into law when she was the minster of gender and women’s affairs.

According to local media, tough-minded Osman described the former minister as a “village idiot” who confronts evil and uncalled for dealings head on “without fear or favour” an element said be lacking in the Joyce Banda administration.

Kaliati is said to have played a pivotal role and pushed for the enactment of the bill for the betterment of women and children who face gender and domestic violence at all levels, according to Osman, a lawyer by profession.

Kaliati: She did a good job

“She is one of the courageous women Malawi has ever produced. We need more of such women who can propel the country in the right direction. Today, Malawi has got the Child Protection Act because of this village idiot woman who worked and fought tirelessly to have the Act,” Osman is quoted as saying.

According to the reports, Osman bemoans government’s failure to present to parliament the Human Trafficking Bill that was approved by cabinet in 2002, 10 years down the line.

Civil Liberties Committee (Cilic) executive director Emma Chanika said President Joyce Banda should have incorporated some “village idiots” in her cabinet, who she said, could have been a menace to government officials whose performance unsatisfactory.

Gender activist Unandi Banda said most Malawians dislike “village idiots” like Kaliati who speak “nothing but the truth and unveils and call evil by its full name.”

“Despite being awful Kaliati is one minister who pressed for sanity in government departments and statutory corporations. Malawians should learn to give credit where it is due,” Banda is quoted saying.

Osman is campaigning for stronger law enforcement to curb child-trafficking.

She is concerned that international recommendations to vigorously prosecute trafficking offenses are not followed through.

“And there has been a decline in trafficking convictions since 2011. Though various statutes allows for up to 14 years imprisonment, the majority of the offenders pay minimal fines,” Osman observes.

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