CSOs claim Malawi govt using ‘divide and rule’ tactics: Faults ‘ambush approach’ to dialogue

Malawi’s vocal Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), activists and human rights defenders have claimed government is using a ‘divide and rule, ambush approach’ to dialogue and fanning factionalism in  civil society.

Mtambo (centre) claim there are divide and rule tactics journalists

Mtambo (centre) claim there are divide and rule tactics

The vocal CSOs issued a communiqué asking government to clarify on Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp), give a status report on the country’s economy, water and electricity crises, public service reforms, Decent and Affordable Housing Subsidy Programme, and presidential and foreign trips.

Cabinet Ministers on Tuesday organised a high-level meeting in Lilongwe to address issues the CSO’s raised.

However, the signatories of the communiqué shunned the meeting, saying that such an approach was deliberately designed to stifle the social accountability movement in the country.

In a statement issued by Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Centre for Development of People (Cedep), Human Rights Defenders Forum, Civic and Political Space platform, Youth and Society, Malawi Network of Religious Leaders Living and Affected with HIV and Aids, the CSOs observe that instead of concentrating addressing the concrete issues raised in their communiqué, government has gone flat out to divide and neutralise critics under the guise of preaching contact and dialogue.

The groups claim government is promoting factional rivalries within the civil society in order to counter CSOs position on the deteriorating political and economic governance in the country.

CSOs alleged that the Special Presidential Advisor on NGOs and Civil Society, Mavuto Bamusi bankrolled and spearheaded “a Civil Society Platform for Constructive Dialogue” in Blantyre inviting some CSOs and “retired” activists with the sole objective to discuss and disown the issues raised in the communiqué.

“Ironically, CSOs who were party and signatory to the statement were never invited to this politically-motivated meeting despite the fact that the agenda for the meeting was our statement. We view this conduct as not only childish but also a clear reflection that the recent calls by government for dialogue are nothing but mere political rhetoric aimed at portraying the false picture that government is sincerely interested in dialogue with the concerned CSOs and that CSOs are shunning dialogue while the actual truth is that government is playing double standards,” reads part of the statement signed by Timothy Mtambo, Gift Trapence, Moses Mkandawire, Charles Kajoloweka, Benedicto Kondowe, Kiko Mapunda and Billy Mayaya.

“As esteemed members of the Civil Society, we view this as hypocrisy of the highest order,” the statement adds.

The statement further faulted the manner in which government conducted its communication on their availability on what was dubbed high-level briefing dialogue meeting at Bingu International Conference Centre, saying it was an ambush and raised more suspicion.

“If this is not enough, the Mutharika’s regime through the same Special Presidential Advisor on NGOs Mavuto Bamusi in the evening of yesterday called [on phone] one of our members Timothy Mtambo inviting him to what he called a ‘feedback session’ where relevant Cabinet Ministers would provide direct and face to face responses to the issues raised by us in our most recent statement. According to Bamusi, the CSOs were to take this as a dialogue opportunity for constructive engagement. After being advised by Mtambo to put that in writing so that he can relay the information to colleagues, Bamusi sent an email in the same evening. In response to this late invitation, members of our team expressed concern that they wouldn’t make it to such an eleventh hour invitation, which even lacked a clear formal standard and agenda considering being an important meeting, due to other commitments.”

The CSO’s state that government would have done better on communication by informing the members in good time as well as following formal procedures of invitation to such a high level meeting, arguing that the Tuesday briefing was perceived as an ambush.

Further, the CSOs observe that contrary to the informal communication they got Bamusi the subsequent revelations of the event from the media sources as well as government official online page indicated that the event was far from being a contact and dialogue platform but rather a high-level briefing to inform the nation through media engagement on government’s responses to the issues raised in their statement.

“The statement on the official government online indicated that the media and the civil society organisations will be present. Nothing was mentioned as this being a dialogue platform. Besides, the statement further indicated that the government would respond to ‘all concerns raised by a section of CSOs on assumed leadership challenges’.”

The CSOs further faulted the use of the phrase “assumed leadership challenges” stating that this did not only signal lack of acknowledgement of the prevailing economic and political challenges by government but also raised doubts on the genuinely and sincerely of the dialogue process being preached by government.

The groups argue that the use of the phrase ‘assumed leadership challenges’ is not only insensitive to the plight of Malawians who are waiting for concrete answers from government but also a clear expression of lack of acknowledgement, ownership and admission of the prevailing current challenges facing the country as raised in the communiqué.

“Why should government portray the picture through its statement that the concerns they would be responding are merely CSOs concerns not those of Malawians? That’s being insensitive. The starting point to any dialogue process is the acknowledgement of the challenges, a thing which the current regime does not want to admit as clearly expressed through the usage of the phrase ‘assumed leadership challenges’. To us we view this as a clear sign that there is no commitment by the current regime to honest and genuine dialogue,” argued the CSOs.

The CSOs, nonetheless, pointed out that while they believe that constructive contact and dialogue with government is important, it must be done in good faith and mutual trust and in the best interest of Malawians and human rights for all rather than solely purposed on stifling the social accountability movement in the country.

“So if government is sincere, serious and sees the importance of engaging us in a contact and dialogue process, then let them organize such a separate event and inform us in good time for our preparation and availability. We remain committed to the process of contact and dialogue,” reads the statement.

On Monday, October 20, 2015, close to 40 CSOs met in Blantyre on Monday under the banner of “The Civil Society Platform for Constructive Dialogue” to discuss what the organisers said is the best way of engaging government at all levels.

The CSOs that attended the Blantyre meeting included Forum for National Development of Fryson Chodzi, Faustace Chirwa’s Women’s Lobby, and Umunthu Foundation of David Odali, Billy Banda’s Malawi Watch, and Centre for Youth Empowerment and Civic Education (CYECE) of Lucky Mbewe, Eye for Development of Edward Chileka Banda, Undule Mwakasungula and Robert Mkwezalamba.

CHRR, Cedep, Human Rights Defenders Forum, Civic and Political Space, MANERELA, and other organisations signatory to the communiqué were reportedly not invited to this forum.

According to a Daily Times newspaper article of 20th October 2015, ironically the meeting was funded by government through the office of the Presidential Advisor on NGOs and Civil Society Bamusi to unspecified tune.

“The meeting was funded by the office of Presidential Advisor on non-governmental organisations but we cannot say how much has been spent,” said Lucky Mbewe as quoted in the Daily Times.

Bamusi was non-committal on why his office funded the indaba.

“We just wanted the CSOs to come out as it is. Whatever has been said in that press conference take it as it is. But I am not providing any comment,” said Bamusi.

CHRR executive director Timothy Mtambo told the Daily Times: “I just heard it from reporters, that there was that meeting but we were not invited. This is not the first time that we are being sidelined on such issues because we were also sidelined when government was launching the NGO charter. This is government’s deliberate ploy to silence us and I must say this is sheer propaganda to further divide and silence the CSOs and this has to stop.”

Gift Trapence of Cedep said such events should not be limited to hand-clappers who in the long run have no interest of Malawians.

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32 thoughts on “CSOs claim Malawi govt using ‘divide and rule’ tactics: Faults ‘ambush approach’ to dialogue”

  1. Cameo says:

    Jb ali busy kufunafuna ndalama kujaku nkumakupatsani agalu inu kuti muzisokoneza basi.

    APM ali busy kufufuza ndalama zachitukuko panopa wachitola chikwama cha mk1,000 000 000 000 zitukuko mbwembwembwe

    ine kumva kukoma nawo anzathu omwe anapezeka ndi Kachilombo zowo kuti Buu ngati moto
    $368 million uzisinthe mu makwacha ndi zingati?

  2. YAKI says:

    Inu osataya nthawi ndi makape awa taonani ma shati si ma crook awa a pa town kumango nama kutin ndi cso s kuma ali ma beggars akulu kwa azungu to hell with you. who do you represent ? who elected you ?

  3. Joseph Moyo says:

    csos are the disgrace to our nation and they create conflicts contrary to what they supposed to do.they behave the same way as the opposition.its hard to differentiate betwn opposition party and csos by this i dont side with APM admin.but i believe they should exercise their duties professionally.Idonot like issues of demonstrations iwould wish this could be the last thing.when other means have failed.when The CSO conduct Demos they spent millions of kwacha so how can u spend such huge somes of money to demonstrate that there is no medicine in hospitals instead of buying drugs in these hospitals using these millions.that is y i conclude that if you are given an opportunity to lead us u will not improve anything infact you ll repeat similar mistakes .

  4. Real Malawian says:

    Dunderhead Chawezi northerners are Malawians too.All Malawians are suffering in all regions because of the visionless leadership.I live in the south and you are always seeing women and kids begging in the street.So you are just contented seeing the president coming from the South even if he is incompetent and cannot deliver.Malawi has long way to develop with that tribalistic mentality.You are always seeing everything in tribalistic perspective.

  5. Mhesha says:

    You felt APM akupatsani scone..? Mwagwa..nayo…TimTimothy and Gift. Who.. you rrorrepresent?

  6. George Kamanga says:

    In Rwanda northerners were hated because they were super power house in all sectors of life for God blessed them before they were formed in their mothers wombs. But unfortunately the fools from the south being filled by demons waked up one morning with the plan to eliminate all the blessed northerners and indeed their evil desires seemed to work but God in His Tenders Mercies vindicated them and up to this day northerners in Rwanda still occupy their God given portions.
    Bingu took the same steps as the southerners in Rwanda to steal what God blessed the northerners in Malawi to give his fellow southerners and here comes the illegitimate president APM following the evil ways of his late brother.

    APM and your fellow evil southerners I encourage you to continue your evil plans against northerners but you are making more steps to make northerners be greatly blessed by God.
    Northerners fight the battle with pure, upright & good hearts before God for He will surely vindicate you and lift you to the highest positions beyond human imagination.

    But a big warning also to any northerner who will fight the battle for greedy reasons for surely God will also shame you with the devilish plans you have. God fight for those who are executing “Truth & Justice”.

    I believe and trust in God in Christ Jesus name that all evil plans upon innocent souls in Malawi are temporal.

  7. walero says:

    kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk u guys which Malawians are u fighting for.first to prove u r fighting for us Malawians please ask JB where she did put our jet money and bring the monies back to us.ask her why she instructed mphwiyo to organize a network that was stealing bour tax monies in the cashgate thing.tell her to return the cash fast.if you do so tizayamba kukukhulupilirani

  8. william says:

    Northeners r also malawian and the had the right to do whatsoever if the feel unhappiness with. Ngati sukusangalasidwa ndi zioneselozoo pitaukanyere mchimbuzi usatinunkhisile mwanyanya kusankhana mitundu.

  9. The CSOs have a problem. They raise issues with an aim to entice gvt to fill their pockets. Once their pockets are full they drop the issue, what a fallacy.

  10. Msadane says:

    CSOs ???? Who do you represent actually? And who voted you into those positions ? Under whose terms of reference ? Which is your legitimate constituency? ?

  11. malawi view says:

    asa! dialogue demands constractive minds, 4sure simukanalimba.kkk. tatieni zopandakumutu zanuzo tizicheza pompano… moti JB wanuyo akuti zikuendatu pamenepa eti? kkk

  12. kapy says:

    Anyamata a mzuzu corner awa pa chanco. angatani zipani zawo ziribe hope

  13. milonde says:

    who exactly do these CSOs represent if they are being funded from external sources?? certainly not the people. the election gives the politicians the mandate to govern. but these CSOs what gives them the mandate to represent the so-called people’s interest? their only interst is themselves and their foreign slave masters.

  14. Pachilambo Usauchi says:

    Most of the NGOs in Malawi are run by Northeners. To the effect that they employ people from the north for all higher positions. Lower levels/grades then go to the other regions. Anthu awa chonde Mulungu asadzalole kuti alamulire dzikoli.

  15. YAKI says:


  16. Samuel says:

    Fighting a loosing battles. Malawi shall always stay blessed. Let us reason together, you choose to run away, Gosh! Think critically, are you on the right path? Lets just sing together.

    Oh! God bless our Land of Malawi,
    Keep it a land of peace,
    Put down each and EVERY ENEMY;
    Hunger, disease; ENVY.
    Join together OUR HEARTS AS ONE,
    That we should be free from fear,

  17. sapitwa says:

    Walira Chule mmadzi muli mwake! Ifetu a Malawi titati takwiya nalo Bomali, sitingayemebekezere za CSO. Tidzalowa mu nsewu tokha ngati momwe tinachitira mu 1993 kulibe awa. So don’t fool Malawians that you are standing in for them when in actual fact you are fighting t your own battles for your personal benefit.

  18. Chawezi says:

    Bungwe loyendesedwa with Northerners only. all the three were meshos at Chanco. kikikikikiki. no wonder the hatred

  19. Zomba boys says:


  20. Malawiyano says:

    DPP , please just tell Malawians the names of people who went to enjoy with Peter to US , the amount of tax payers money spent for the whole team which you took to US and what roll did they play at the UN ? That’s the end of the story , instead of dividing CSO’s we Malawians are looking for the answers according to our demands.
    The remaining four years will be your tough time if you don’t know , no wonder donors will never trust you people with their money.

  21. The real ujeni says:

    Saiziyakana, you have said it all. This is DPP a party of mafias, thieves, crooks.

  22. mjcentral says:

    So Gift has the interest of Malawians? Lo! what a nonsense.

  23. Mark Liwonde says:

    Nonse amene simudapite mungoona mayina anu ndi amabungwe anu, and will agree that you fighting for yourselves. No Malawian will benefit.

  24. Dominic says:

    Malawian CSOs leave a lot to be desired. Nothing objective can come from Sembereka and Trapence. We know you too well – money hungry. This is why JB bought you all during her time.

  25. Saiziyakana says:

    Kodi DPP yikufuna yikatifikitse kuti? They can not go on like this up to …they say 2024. Yalakwa kale panopa. maboza will not help the economy. Stupidity will not also help the economy.
    Those that hate CSOs are all fools and they live in fools paradise. At the moment you may think CSOs are your enemies and a few days down the line you may need the same CSOs.

    DPP is a dark party that does not like the truth and would go to any length to hide the truth and hurt people. Koma chimene people like @truth hurts and Bamusi do not know is that they are just a few of them having a great life in Malawi here while millions of Malawians are suffering. I do not think demanding accountability and transparency and hard truth from your Government is a sin or crime.

    The mentality that if one wins (?) an election he has a licence to loot and steal resources from Government is not right and must be erased. Ndalama zoti abe panopo palibe please slow down – e.g. ndalama a Kaliati amatenga ma allowance a anthu ambiri osazisata – anawatenga ku New York – which was a motivation for taking the semi illiterate – kuwapatsa allowance ya boma keneka kuwatengera a Kaliati kuyika mthumba. Mwaona Zikulephereka kuzitsatsa zinthu izi nzoipa ndithu basi. (Kaliati was bringing all manner of people asking her ministry to pay for them – now pitala defends such stupidity – i wonder his sanity and genuineness towards Malawians)

    Donors know exactly what is happening and you think they can resume aid? Please akhululukireni a malawi. Zakukwanani ndalama perekani boma kwa munthu angathandize ntundu wa a malawi please chonde bwana pitala.
    Simukulimbana ndi andale anzanu or ma CSOs koma a malawi ambiri mbiri amene amaganiza kuti muwathandiza poyendetsa dzikoli bwino.
    Paja amati wakuba ndi wakuba amaba ndi mafuwa omwe ndaonela DPP. In the midst of problems DPP continues to steal using UNGA etc and denies the truth.
    Apa pavuta zedi

  26. Jabulosi says:

    DPP government do not fool yourselves thinking that all Malawians are stupid. This only shows how shallow minded your group is!!!!!!! The same Ziphwisi man who misdirected Bingu is once again misdirecting APM.

  27. Sir Bentby says:

    “Kodi wakhungu nikusogolera wakhungu muzache?”
    Peter ayobe muthalika is just deluded and clueless human, his professorships is just plunk, JB changed the dire situation created by bingu his brother, within a year, and he, APm inherited well placed govt, but look he is taking a ride towards sloppy. Things are turning from bad to worsening in his watch, and he pretend blind sight.”AMAPHWEKESA PALI JOYCE BANDA, PANO CHAMUNYERERA CHIPAKO” (during Joyce Banda era, he thought it was simple to run govt, now he is a flops)

  28. Nasimba Novirhikana says:

    Anthu folo, crate imodzi, mbale ziwiri za tchipisi. Malawi wawawa kwambiri. Chonde ambuye tipulumutseni.

  29. kennedy says:

    When is dpp going to stop this rubbish? in every move they make its bribery eish. why is everyone in dpp afraid of the truth and reality?
    please God rescue us.





  31. truth pains says:

    You didnt know of the meeting trapence and friends but you knew that there would be a meeting and it was conducted. I thought its you who called for the dialogue meeting and you wanted special invitation to the meeting you initiated? Zoseketsa Civil Society yathu makani opanda phindu. Pitani mumsewu pa 27 October mukone za 20 July. Chonde a polisi ulendo uno mukawombere the organizers osati anthu ongotsatiranso ayi

  32. The Only Democrat Left says:

    CSO’s please you have to keep your demands simple and carry out civic education for Malawians to understand the issues.
    Fundamental issue is to stop corruption in award of government contracts including for fertiliser and pharmaceuticals and to force Dunderhead Mutharika to bring back to Malawi the billions that both he and his brother have stolen from Malawi.
    No other issue matters and you CSO are complicating issues and confusing the public. For how can there be development unless we stop corruption and force Mutharika to return the billions.
    Regarding chartered flights and excessive expanses the problem is the entire system of controlling government spending and here we need the parliamentary committee of public expanditure to seek full accountability from government.
    Do not let Undule confuse you he sold Malawians out to Bingu and will do that again.

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