Pressure is still mounting on Malawi’s President Joyce Banda to reconsider her recent decision of signing into law the Gender Equality Bill which religious leaders and other civil society organizations says is ungodly.
The centre of the controversy is Section 19 (1) of the legislation, which gives “every person a right whether or not to have a child”.
Many people view the section as an indirect way of legalizing abortion which they say is an act against the will of God.
Reverend Michael Ntambo of the Devine Destiny International Church says it is unfortunate that the President has assented to the bill which promotes abortion.
“All in all God tells us that we should not kill because abortion is killing and even masturbating does not please God that’s why he destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah,” Mtambo, formerly of Anglican church said.
“ I don’t know what type of the leader or a President we have because for her being a Christian she would have been be exemplary in her Christian faith,” he said.
Richard Padambo of the Pentecostal Ambassador church concurred with Ntambo but he asked President Banda to look at issues of national interest with unbiased judgment.
“I would like to urge the President to first look at such bills critically before assenting to them. Not signing them into law just because a certain group of people is fighting for their rights but should look from the biblical point of view,” said Padambo.
Meanwhile, a grouping of concerned Malawi citizens known as Umunthu Pressure Group who had earlier petitioned President Banda asking her not to assent to the bill unless the abortion part is expunged, say they are considering taking the issue to court for redress.
It its recent statemtn, the organization’s national coordinator Kizito James Kaunjika said assenting to the bill the President is marking the genesis of oppression in Malawi, arguing that some sections of the legislation are in conflict with Chapter IV section 33 of the Malawi Constitution which promote freedom of conscience, religion, beliefs and thought and academic freedom.
Kaunjika cites a section in the Gender Equality legislation which he says puts a fine of K1million or three-year jail term in default should a nurse or a doctor refuses to comply or contravenes some sections of the reproductive health like not willing to administer family planning methods to the client because of his or her (doctor/nurse) belief, religion or thought.
“This is unfair because by signing this Bill, the president thinks that Gender Bill should be respected more than the constitution of the land. The constitution is the supreme law of the land and it cannot be overruled by this Gender Equality law,” he said.
Kaunjika also said the group is deeply concerned with President Banda for ignoring their petition in which they asked her not to assent to the Bill until some issues have been carefully scrutinized.
“We are very shocked and disappointed to learn that our President Joyce Banda has finally assented to the controversial Bill without considering the petition that was presented to her for further scrutiny on the Bill. We have consulted our lawyers to take this issue to court for redress on some of the sections which we feel are unconstitutional”.
Both Reverends Ntambo and Padambo saID they are totally in support of Umunthu Pressure Group for taking the matter to court.
But government spokesperson Moses Kunkuyu said there is nothing wrong for the President to assent to the Bill because she only acts on what parliament has debated on and passed.
“What the head of state consents to, is what has been provided to her by parliament. After the parliament has gone through and debated on it. What the president did in this case was simply to endorse what parliament, the representative body of the people has endorsed already,” he explained.
Kunkuyu said what Umunthu Pressure Group should have done was to consult their parliamentarian “so that when the bill goes to the parliament the parliamentarians should reject the bill”.
However, an opposition parliamentarian Wictor Sajeni had earlier called upon government to remove the part arguing that sexual reproduction is already supported by other laws and initiatives and therefore cannot accept the legitimization of what he calls “immoral act”.
But Gender Minister Anita Kalinde downplayed the fears saying the bill is not legalizing abortion in the country but it’s an affirmative action which seeks to seal the gap that is there between men and women.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :