Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika has received a dressing down from human rights campaigners over his sneering quip likening Malawians to ‘chickens’ that cry on simple issues like the twin problems of forex and fuel.
“Malawians are like chickens, they cry over simple issues. Are you telling me that the only problems you can cry about are forex and fuel?” Mutharika retorted in Zomba last week while mimicking chicken cry.
The remarks ignited a furious backlash from the public with most Malawians taking their criticising on Nyasa Times comments; radio phone-in programmes, Facebook and micro blogging site Twitter.
The Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) says it regrets the insensitive remarks by President Mutharika.
“It is scandalous for the whole Head of State to call the citizenry chickens,” said HRCC Vice chairperson Magret Ali and National Coordinator Reverend Macdonald Sembereka in a media statement.
HRCC asked President Mutharika to stop wasting time “castigating civil society leadership and invest its energy into looking for solutions to the current debilitating challenges the country is going through.”
Mutharika accused the opposition political parties and NGOs for being interested on issues that would endear themselves with the international community but that would not help Malawians.
But HRCC asked government to “call for a consultative process with all stakeholders including political parties, donors and civil society to brainstorm on the ideals we have to stand for at this time of crisis. “
The organisation also called on government to “adhere to the principles of good governance as advanced in the laws of the land without unnecessary limitations being created outside such laws.”
The statement reads: “We are convinced that sanity can return into Malawi if the leadership subscribes to the same values Malawians vouch for. It is our belief that a better Malawi is possible if we take cognizance of the above.”
In the statement, HRCC also expressed its dismay at the verbal attacks and threats made by the President Mutharika and his Government officials, (including the Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati) towards the leadership of the committee.
“This in our opinion is intimidation that doesn’t befit a democracy like ours and cannot be left unchecked. Further, this is reminiscent of old habits carried forward from the past couple of years that culminated into the attacks on property and individuals whose investigations have yielded nothing to date,” the statement read.
“As human rights defenders, we wish to once again reiterate that nothing will stop us from executing our responsibility in ensuring that Malawians get the best out of those put into positions of authority. This is premised on the background that -those who rule do so by the trust of the people.”
The rights defenders vowed that they will not stop at anything but press for more accountability and adherence to good governance principles.
“No grain of intimidation will stop us from exercising such within the ambits of the Laws of the Land. It is our view that Malawians deserve better and that no lukewarm service delivery or face saving mechanisms should blind them.”
HRCC says it will hold President Mutharika accountable if anything harmful happens to any of its leaders and membership.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :