Malawi CSOs proposes occupy State House, Black Monday protests over cash-gate

Civil society organisations (CSOs) operating under the Grand Coalition are  proposing a march to the State House to push for President Joyce Banda to resign and  pave for an interim government if the State  fails to conduct a fast-tack trial on  suspects involved in the looting of public resource dubbed cash-gate scam.

Malawi is recovering from wide scale embezzlement, which is linked to the September 13 shooting of budget director Paul Mphwiyo. Mphwiyo, who is recovering from a South African hospital, has promised to identify those behind the attack.

The CSOs want government to investigate and prosecute suspects involved in the looting between July and September 2013 by end of November.

Chairperson of the Council for Non-governmental  Organisations (Congoma) Voice Mhone  said activists have proposed — in coordination with other 13 high-profile civil society organisations — calling a ‘Black Monday’ when Malawians will dress in black every Monday to symbolise the death of the public purse after being looted by thieves.

Voice Mhone: CSOs will promote ‘Black Monday; protests

“The Black Monday will be declared after meeting the Head of State in person to present this petition,” reads the communiqué/

But University of Malawi political analysts Mustapha Hussein and Blessings Chinsinga have dismissed the calls  by CSOs  as “unreasonable” for President Banda to stand down and the establishment of an interim government, saying the country is due to hold elections in less than 7 months time.

The communiqué dated November 7 2013,  has been issued by the CSOs: Congoma; the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI); the Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU); the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR); the Centre for Development of People (Cedep); the Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC); the Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn); the Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC); the Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet); the Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn); the Livingstonia  CCAP  Synod Church and Society; Cama and the Coordination Unit for the Rehabilitation of the Environment (CURE).

The CSOs have proposed other measures including:

  • Holding periodic peaceful mass demonstrations across the country.
  • Conducting a go-slow or stay-away from work to facilitate and in support of citizen occupation of Capital Hill and ensure that the President is in office daily so that she is seen to be part of the solution to the crisis.
  • Organising citizen occupation of State houses and conducting vigils and prayers for the country.
  • The CSOs’ complaints revolve around the Action Plan which guides government’s response to the looting scandal, saying it does not address the fundamentals of the plunder.
  • The organisations are also concerned about what they say is the slow pace of investigations into the shooting of budget director Paul Mphwiyo; the return of government payment platform IFMIS before a thorough analysis of its loopholes; firing of senior officers at the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB); special treatment accorded to suspect Oswald Lutepo and arrests of ‘junior’ officers in government over the theft.
  • The 13 CSOs are also aggrieved that despite donors withholding aid over the looting President Banda continues to travel extensively within and outside the country.
  • On the Action Plan, the CSOs argue that the document is a political tool aimed at hoodwinking Malawians into believing that government is committed to dealing with the problem.
  • Between January and June 2014, the CSOs want government to investigate and prosecute people who stole public money from financial years 2008-2012.
  • Some of the cases they want investigated are: the theft of K400 million which implicated police officer Elijah Kachikuwo; the K61 billion allegedly amassed by former president Bingu wa Mutharika and the Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) house purchase scandal that drew in DPP president Peter Mutharika, among other high-profile personalities.
  • The corruption cases involving former president Bakili Muluzi and former vice-president Cassim Chilumpha should be concluded.
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