Malawi activists renegade from CSOs ‘civil disobedience’ call

A grouping of civil rights organizations under the Forum for National Development (FND)  have denounced the proposition by the Grand Coalition calling for “civil disobedience” arguing that active members of the Council for Non Governmental Organization (CONGOMA) have been left out in their activities deemed unrealistic and non-consultative.

Unandi Banda Executive Director for National Elections Systems Trust (NEST) said at a one day civil society conference on democracy and economic governance his institution cannot subscribe to activities that he said are politically motivated and bent at subverting peace and stability in the country.

Banda said his organization was accredited by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to conduct civic voter education and always respects rule of law. He said they cannot participate in activities that are aimed at destabilizing the legal process.

Luther Mambala former president of the Malawi Congress of Trade Union who also attended the meeting said he was perplexed to observe that a certain section of the civil society are calling civil servants to observe civil disobedience hence it is the same members of the civil service who participated in the cashgate scandal.

Kampaundi:They have clandestine motives

“Some civil servants stole money from government coffers, the donors have suspended aid and some of our friends are calling for civil servants to put on black clothes and stop working, who are they protesting against?” wondered Mandala.

Bright Kampaundi chairperson of the Forum for National Development expressed concern over actions by the Grand coalition saying it is high time members of the civil society would have acted in the best interest of Malawians and not on personal gains.

He suspects that some members of the grand coalition could be acting on behalf of some politicians who want government to stop investigating the cash gate saga because they know they could have been involved in a way or the other.

“There are over 1000 members of the civil society registered under the Council for Non Governmental Organizations (CONGOMA) but only 14 out of 1000 are calling themselves a grand coalition. We have never been consulted before in their decisions and that is why we felt it is of great importance that we meet to brainstorm on these matters. We called on government authorities to explain to us what happened and what is the progress so far so that we should be able to argue with facts,” said Kampaundi.

He said the actions could just lead to chaos and lawlessness in the country.

Deputy Inspector General of Police responsible for operation Nelson Bophani took time to explain to members of the civil society what has been the progress so far.

Bophani said the police are doing all it can to ensure that all those who were involved in the theft of government resources are arrested and prosecuted.

He however, called for patience on the part of Malawians saying the legal process may take time as there are more players involved including the police, Directorate of Public Prosecution, the courts and the accused side which makes it difficult to work with the much needed speed.

Nevertheless, he said there has been much progress made on the issue.

Speaking on behalf of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Chief Investigations Officer Dan Mponda said the bureau is currently working on several issues related to the stealing of public funds to the effect that some suspicious bank accounts have been frozen.

Meanwhile, government has made significant strides in implementation of action plan to address the issue according to minister of information Brown Mpinganjira who sited among other things cleaning up the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) and has since installed a new system with a much stronger firewall that is aimed at preventing illegal access to the system.

Government has also directed that access to the IFMIS computers in Ministries and Departments will have to be authorized by Controlling Officers.

The ministry of finance is issuing new user rights and passwords to all ministries and departments which will be used to access IFMIS.

Government has also involved external forensic auditors from Britain to help trace the source and magnitude of the looting and form a basis for further action to fully seal loopholes in the government financial management system.–(Additional reporting by Chancy Namadzunda, Nyasa Times)

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