We, the undersigned Civil Society Organizations working in the realm of human rights, governance, HIV/AIDS and health, together with all Malawians of good will have noted with concern the crisis state of the economy, accountability, governance, rule of law and human rights in the country collectively observe as follows:
- Concerned with the dwindling state of governance as evidenced by lack of separation of powers, abuse and manipulation of public resources which are meant to serve the interest of Malawian people, high cost of living, nepotism, security lapses, absence of decisive leadership, the untold story about scarcity of essential drugs and demotivated work staff in the public health sector, impression created by NAC over disbursement of HIV/AIDS related funds for purposes that have nothing to do with HIV and AIDS, growing incidence of strikes, the deplorable conditions in the education sector and continued lack of transparency and accountability in the mining sector;
- Convinced that managing state affairs and institutions is by trust, and that those elected or appointed into state leadership take full commitment to uphold this principle;
- Aware of what is at stake in a country that lacks national direction coupled with bad signs of good governance as evidenced by the issues raised herein;
- Realizingthat the President of Malawi is not only the head of government but also the whole state of Malawi under section 78 of the Constitution of Malawi
- Recalling that the President of Malawi takes an oath under the Constitution of Malawi where he or she swears to “do right to all manner of people according to law without fear or favour, affection or ill-will”
- Recognizing that the role of the President of Malawi is to provide executive leadership in the interest of national unity under section 88(2) of the Constitution of Malawi
- Touched that the country is divided along tribal, ethnic and regional lines
- Determined to safeguard democratic values such as accountability, transparency and responsiveness as the very foundations of good governance;
- Noting that issues raised herein have been raised many times before, and that Government is seemingly failing to provide the needed leadership to address them;
- Reaffirming that those in positions of leadership and/or power are accountable to the citizens, and that no one is above the law;
Hereby petition the State President of the Republic of Malawi, His Excellency Professor Peter Mutharika and governmenton the following matters of concern:
- Rule of Law, accountability and governance
1.1. Separation of Powers
- Malawians are concerned with the executive’s failure to abide by the fundamental principles of separation of powers. The executive arm of government continues to exercise authority which undermines the other arms. The just-ended prolonged judiciary’s strike is a shining example of how the executive is failing to promote harmony with other arms of Government, and this has often have had serious implications on access to justice and legal remedies by the citizens.
1.2. Unsustainability of Presidential initiatives:
- Malawians are aware that most of the Presidential initiatives are self-driven, political and non-sustainable yet they continue to be financed by taxpayers, and in some instances, without the oversight role of Parliament. Because of politicization of such initiatives, ordinary and deserving Malawians do not benefit from them and that the initiatives are campaign tools to woe voters ahead of elections. Due to lack of clear regulation every President initiates new projects which are quite often short-lived and a huge expense to taxpayers. Muds Trust, Cement and Iron sheets subsidy programs, are striking examples of initiatives that are not owned by all Malawians.
1.3. Slow pace of (K92 billion and K13 billion) cashgate cases and divided interests
- Malawians are concerned with slow pace to concluding cashgate cases more so that the cases that are already in court are largely for junior offices whom might have been carrying orders from their superiors. Furthermore, it is disturbing that there are competing cashgate investigations [K92 billion and K13 billion] with divided interests contrary to the general expectation of Malawians to see to it that justice is not only seen to be done but is manifestly done on both issues.
1.4. Diverting of NAC funding to non-essential political events/Misallocation of NAC funds (NACGATE)
- Malawians are concerned that whilst the country is still facing shortages of antiretroviral (ARVs), it is surprising to note that resources for such a purpose have been misdirected to entities that do not directly deal with HIV/ AIDS interventions such as BEAM Trust (K5 million) and Mulhakho Wa Alhomwe (K 9.4 million) which is tantamount to abuse of resources. Malawians are disappointed that the process of granting funds to the stated recipients was not fair considering the fact that some organisations earmarked for funding for duly approved HIV/AIDS intervention are yet to receive their funding on grounds that funds were not available. This has created the impression that the decision to grant resources to the stated recipients was due to political manipulation. We are concerned that the impression created by NAC in this regard might jeopardise Malawi’s application for funding from the Global Fund for HIV//AIDs. All this coupled with reports suggesting that this may not be the first time for National Aids Commission to misallocate funds puts to question the commitment of NAC leadership in promoting fiscal discipline in use of these resources, and is as such a great concern. Loss of funding [from Global Fund] to interventions on HIV/AIDS, due to the malpractice, would put at high risk the lives of many
1.5. Women Empowerment:
- Malawians are concerned with government’s “abandonment” of the women empowerment cause as partly reflected in decimal participation of women in positions of leadership including public service and cabinet appointments. The retrogressive trends erode the gains made in the last few years and runs counter to numerous international instruments that Malawi is a party to such as CEDAW, UDHR, ICESCR, SADC Protocol on Women and Gender.
1.6. Civil Servants salary increments undermining the principle of equity
- While commending Malawi government for living up to its promise of increasing salaries of civil servants, Malawians are concerned that the recent increment defeated the principle of equity where the low ranked civil servants given the raw dealwhere the higher increment percentages were given to the high ranking civil servants at the expense of low ranking civil servants.The recent increments have presented a scenario where the gap between the senior and junior officers has amazingly widened further thereby putting to question government’s commitment to bridging the gap between the same
1.7. Shortage of drugs and poor health service delivery
- Malawians are concerned with acute shortage of essential drugs, and poor health service delivery system. Malawians also deplore the unbearable working conditions of health personnel who remain demotivated and in the process negatively affecting service delivery.It is unbelievable that most satellite clinics do not have even stocks of panadoand aspin, and that perpetually patients are advised to buy from shops and private pharmacies. Recent reports about huge storage expenditures in ware houses of expired drugs is a complete mockery to the Malawian people and a sign of poor leadership by the health sector to effectively and efficiently manage the sector.
1.8. Poor Delivery of Social Services
1.8.1. Persistent water and electricity problems: Malawians are concerned with the persistent problems of water and electricity which continue to adversely affect the country especially the cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe.
1.8.2. Security lapse: Malawians are concerned with the security lapse in the country which apart from exposing them to fearful lives has the potential to scare away investors.
1.9. Poor state of education system in the country
1.9.1. Public education service delivery on verge of collapse: Malawians are concerned that the public education service delivery is on the verge of collapse emanating from lack of strategic direction and bad governance of the sector. Most importantly, Malawians note that the right to education is at stake as learners are not taught, teachers are not paid on time, and some classes literally conducted under trees.
1.9.2. Instability of University Calendar: Malawians are further concerned with the instability of the academic calendar of the universities (University of Malawi and Mzuzu University) as characterized by the recent indefinite closure of the same. Malawians are also concerned with the closure of Machinga TTC.
1.9.3. “Hide and seek” game on Quota system: Malawians are concerned with the hide and seek game by President Peter Mutharika in addressing the issue of the Quota system as a way of selecting students into the public universities. The silence exemplified by the President raises doubts about his commitment to reforms and his own position on the subject matter as publicly espoused in his inaugural speech. It is unhealthy for a leadership to deliberately portray double standard on a critical issue like this one, and that the more clarity is given, the more likelihood the matter is put to rest.
2.1. Public Sector Reforms
- While appreciating the intent of the public sector reform, Malawians observe that the process has not been inclusive enough, and has failed to take into consideration the existing legislations applicable to some institutions such that if not well managed and harmonized, the outcome of such process may be challenged at law and render it redundant. Malawians are concerned that there hasn’t been consideration of the current legal framework which may not allow the executive arm of the government to impose reforms in a number of institutions outside the civil service, including the Judiciary, Parliament, and Independent institutions such as Anti-Corruption Bureau, Ombudsman etc. The proposed reforms will, hence, not be mandatory and as such redundant or obsolete. The other issue Malawians are asking government is: how much is the reform commission costing our economy? Andy why is it that other public institutions with mandate of public sector reform are not doing this work instead (e.g. Office of the Ombudsman, Department of Human Resource and management, Public Appointments Committee?) Why are these institutions not ex-officio members of this commission? Malawians are also particularly concerned with the tying of positions of designated offices such as the Reserve Bank Governor, Army Commander and the Chief Justice to the Presidential tenure of office which makes these offices political, and unable to inspire confidence amongst the citizens of the country.
2.2. Electoral Reforms
- Malawians note that the circumstances around May 20 Tripartite elections clearly demonstrate inadequacy of the electoral laws to safeguard the right to vote, ‘legitimacy to govern’ or the upholding of the elections of a leader by the majority. Malawians are of the view that free, fair and credible elections cannot be achieved by the current state of laws and mechanisms of administering elections in Malawi. Malawians are hence concerned with government continued failure to act on or drive the electoral reform agenda including the proposed 50+1 electoral system as a matter of government’s priority.
2.3. Mining reforms
- Malawians are concerned with government’s slow pace in reforming the policy and legal framework that regulate the mining sector. Much as Malawians are aware that government is adopting EITI (Extractive Industry and Transparency Initiative), the process of granting permit and licenses is shrouded in secrecy and subject to manipulation and abuse by the authority holders. The consequence of this is that ordinary Malawians who ought to benefit from the sector continue to be pushed to the margin.
- 0.Poor State of the Economy
- Whilst appreciating the economic situation prevailing in the country, Malawians were hopeful that the sentiments by government about over-collection by MRA would fill in the gap created by loss of budget support from donors. However, despite this hope, Malawians are concerned that Ministries continue to be underfunded and that MRA continue to under collect, thereby revealing huge imbalance between revenue and expenditure. The unprecedented tax rise on VAT, passport, and now the new call by government to re-register businesses is a clear testimony of a tax regime that is not only tortuous but also impoverishing the majority of Malawians who are already suffering from the consequences of cash-gate (K92 billion and K13 billion cashgates). In addition, Malawians note that while there have been recent improvements in the macroeconomic policies such as appreciation of the local currency and forex reserves, it is however sad to note that there is still no improvement in the living conditions of most ordinary Malawians which is a sign of limitation of the said improvements to trigger what matters to the people.
4.0. Promotion and respect of human rights
4.1. Workers rights
- Malawians are concerned with an unprecedented number of stay aways, boycotts and strikes across many sectors. It is a known fact that the industrial actions are as a result of high cost of living that do not tally with their income. While employees have the freedom of expression and the right to fair wage, Malawians are worried that government seems to be too slow to resolve the matters through mutual and consultative bargaining processes. Such an action by government is retrogressive, insensitive and runs counter to the democratic tenets.
4.2. Politicization of the state media
- Malawians are concerned with the continued politicization of the state-media especially Malawi Broadcasting Corporation which continues to be a sole mouthpiece of the “ruling” party, and has often been used as a vessel to unleash attacks/propaganda of any critical voice. Parading of chiefs, vendors on state media to attack “critical” voices of the regime should be stopped.
4.3. Access to justice and legal remedies
- While appreciating the end of the prolonged judicial strike, Malawians are concerned with the dispensation of justice which is usually slow even where courts are fully operational such that the current scenario undermines the 48 hour rule in as far as respecting the rights of the alleged offenders is concerned. Malawians are hence concerned with Congestion in police cells and prisons violates the fundamental rights of both the alleged and convicted offenders to access due legal remedies
4.4. Demonisation of the right to demonstration and freedom of assembly and freedom of expression
- Malawians are concerned with government’s orchestrated propaganda to demonise constitutionally guaranteed freedom of assembly and right to demonstration which clearly indicatethat the right to freedom of expression through demonstration, written or spoken has nothing to do with whether demonstrations are justifiable or not in the eyes of a third party. By demonizing these fundamental rights through state and some DPP-controlled private media, the government is sending a worrisome message to the public that it has no respect or regards for the constitution as well as its commitments towards protection and respect of human rights.
- Access to information bill:While acknowledging that government has made numerous promises before, it appears that the current administration is equally only rhetorically committed to the same. Malawians observe that the enactment of access to information law is taking unnecessarily too long.
4.5. Transparency and accountability in the extractive industry
- Kayerekera Uranium concerns: Malawians are concerned with government’s rushed decision to issue a permit allowing Paladin Africa Limited to discharge water (toxic effluent) from the tailing ponds at the Kayerekera Uranium Mine into the Sere/North Rukuru Rivers which eventually flows into Lake Malawi 50 Kilometres downstream without clear, honest wide consultations and dissemination of the information on the matter with the communities and the general public. Such a decision has only managed to sow seeds of fear and suspicion in Malawians especially those living in Karonga.
- Release of mining reports and documents: Malawians are concerned with the continued dilly-dally by government to release the development agreement between Eland Coal Mine and government as well as the environmental assessment audit report of Kayerekera Uranium Mine.
We the undersigned organisations and all Malawians of good will hereby request and petition the state President of Republic of Malawi, His Excellency Professor Peter Mutharika anddemand as follows:
- The government should desist from politically abusing the public institutions, resources and funds for purposes which are contrary to their mandates and not in the best interest of Malawians. For instance, All boards and chief executives of statutory bodies should undergo a due interview process by the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament.
- The President should dissolve the board of National AIDS Commission and dismiss NAC executive director and institute a forensic audit of NAC disbursement of AIDS funds since the time NAC was granted the principle recipient of HIV/AIDS related funds by Global fund.
- Government should put in place clear steps to ensure that National Aids Commission is no longer susceptible to political abuse and interference. Government should further condemn NACGATE and provide assurance to the nation that this shall never happen again in future, and should initiate the review of NAC policy and procedures on fund disbursement.
- First Lady’s Beautify Malawi (BEAM) and Mulhakho Wa Alhomwe should refund K5million and K9.4 million respectively to National Aids Commission (NAC) to be used for its intended HIV/AIDS response functions.
- The President should immediately provide executive leadership by amongst other things delivering monthly public address on the steps being taken to address the prevailing economic hardships and unprecedented suffering of Malawians until things stabilizes. Government should update the nation on the status quo on the implementation of the economic recovery plan (ERP) adopted during the previous regime. If ERP was abandoned then government should provide a clear economic recovery strategy with clear targets, which should be born out wide consultations with relevant stakeholders.
- The President should desist from appointing people based on tribalism, ethnicity, regionalism and partisan politics, and endeavor to put Malawi first. To this end, the President should explain steps being taken by government to ensure that civil and public servants in all government and public institutions are appointed on merit.
- Government should attempt to resolve grievances raised by public service staff before strikes even take place. Where there is a strike, Government should commit to amicably resolve the grievances for resumption of duties within one calendar month. All current strikes should be resolved before end January.
- The President should safeguard the independence of other arms of government, and desist from due interference in their operations
- Government should address the problem of drug shortage and poor service delivery as a matter of urgency. Government should also ensure that it addresses the concerns of the health personnel, who have threatened to go on strike if their grievances are not addressed, before end of January.
- The Malawi police should step up its effort to ensure that security is guaranteed to the citizens, investors and businesses or property. Government is thus seriously urged to closely monitor progress, make the police account for any further lapse, and institute correction measures.
- Malawians demand that the two matters (K92 billion and K13 billion cashgates) should be earnestly investigated, prosecuted and brought to their finality without favour. There has apparently been no demonstration of commitment by government to come to the bottom of cash gate, and that government did not demonstrate any anxiety that judiciary strike was delaying cashgate prosecution. In pursuit of justice, government is urged to desist from shielding some alleged senior officers on the matter as doing so would negate government’s obligations to protect its citizens, and to discharge its obligation in accordance with the law.Government should also implement mechanisms to ensure non-occurrence of any other cashgate in the present and onwards.
- Government should support the current electoral reform process including the 50+1 electoral system and ensure that government come up with a clear action plan on how to actualize such reforms in readiness of 2019 elections. Government should also dissolve Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) commissioners for failing to manage the 2014 tripartite elections hence losing public trust to manage any future elections. Government should also act on the 2006/2007 constitutional review process recommendations including those relating to electoral reforms.
- Government is urged to reconstruct the public sector reform and ensure that all the other arms of government are brought on board. Government should pay attention to various existing legislations applicable to some institution that might render such an important process be of no benefit to its purposeful intent. Government should also consider including relevant public institutions with the mandate of public sector reform (e.g. Department of Human Resource and management, Public Appointments Committee) to be ex-officio members in the civil service reform commission. Government should also provide a clear explanation on how much the reform commission is costing our economy.Government is urged to reconstruct the public sector reform and ensure that all the other arms of government are brought on board.
- The President should unveil to the public the steps his government has put in place in order to ensure that the calendar of public universities or colleges are not disturbed due to indefine closures. To that end the President, in his capacity as chancellor, should order for an immediate opening of Chancellor College, Polytechnic and Mzuzu University before end January 2015.
- The President should inform Malawians about his government’s position on the current quota system of selection of students to public universities based on their districts of origin. Malawians are aware that the President pledged to abolish quota system which has proved to be divisive.
- Government should ensure that the access to information bill is tabled in the next sitting of parliament.
- Governmentshould clearly come up with a deliberate action plan to promote girls and women empowerment. The President should also put deliberate mechanisms to consider deserving women in positions of power and decision making as a critical mechanism for sustainable development. We propose a minimum of at least 30% women representation in public appointments.
- Government should open up Malawi Broadcasting Corporation for all, and ensure that it’s not a tool for unleashing propaganda against critical voice. Similarly, Malawians ask MACRA to investigate the unbiased reporting by MBC and penalize the institution within the mandate of the regulator. Should the trend continue, Malawians ask Parliament to withhold funding to MBC during the upcoming budget sessions.
- Malawians urge the President to promote and protect constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms.To that end, government should ensure that freedom of assembly and expression are exercised without due interference.
- Malawians therefore demand that all ongoing and future concessions in the mining sector should either be suspended pending the enactment of the new mining and minerals act or reviewed.
- Government should ensure that Paladin immediately halt the process of discharging radioactive effluents into Rukuru and Sere river. Instead, Paladin should conform to the initial plans of building a second tailings dam. The government should also withdraw the permit it granted Paladin to go ahead with the process of discharging radioactive effluents until all the fears and uncertainties are addressed.
- The President and his government must fully implement the National Youth Policy (NYP) adopted August 2013 and provide adequate budgetary and technical support. Malawians also demand review of the NYCOM Act of 1996.The President must provide a clear direction and explanation on how his government intends to reduce youth unemployment.
In line with the concerns and demands above, government is urged to address them or demonstrate significant steps to addressing within 100 days from the date of delivery of this petition today on 13th January, 2015. Government should also facilitate the institution of a dialogue platform with civil society organisations and other key stakeholders over the issues raised herein within a period of 2 weeks. To this end, government must constitute a high level team that will follow and track the progress of implementing these demands alongside the Civil Society organisations and other key stakeholders’ team within 2 weeks and communicate the same to us the petitioners.
N.B: We demand that the concerns and demands which are linked to NAC should be addressed within 3 weeks from the date of delivery of this petition –today on 13th January 2015. Failure to comply with this demand, we will regroup and decide the next course of action in order to ensure that justice and sanity prevails on the matter.
Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN)
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR)
Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP)
Nurses Organization of Malawi
Malawi Network of Religious Leaders Living with HIV and AIDS
Malawi Network of People Living With HIV and AIDS
Citizens for Justice (CFJ)
Civic and Political Space (CPS)
Church and Society Programme– Livingstonia Synod (CSP-LS)
Human Rights Defenders Forum (HRDF)
Malawi Human Rights Resource Centre
National Elections Trust
ANPPCAN Malawi Chapter
Local NGO Forum on HIV/AIDS
Foundation for Community Support Services
Youth and Society
Child Development and Support Organization
Centre for Youth Development
Mzuzu Youth Association (MYA)
Outreach Scout Foundation
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