Bingu pleads with August 17 vigil organizers

By Lusubilo Sichali, Nyasa Times 

In a 25-minute long national address monitored on state-owned Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) on Sunday,  President Bingu wa Mutharika pleaded with organizers of the August 17 mass protests to call them off, claiming his government is doing all it can to improve the deteriorating economic and political governance in the southern Africa nation.

“Let’s join hands for peace and security; let’s for once agree to work together to develop our mother Malawi for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren,” said Mutharika.

The president said he had put in place several measures to address the concerns raised in a petition presented to him during the July 20 demonstrations but said these could not come to fruition “within three weeks”.

Mutharika: Cancel the demo

 

He said, actually most of the measures were already highlighted before the July 20 demostrations and that if the civil society leaders had listened to him not to go ahead with the protests, lives of people could not have been lost.

Among the measures, Mutharika said he had put in place a high-level presidential committee on dialogue which will engage NGO and any other groups and individuals on economic and political governance and development of the country.

He said he would be appointing a commission of Inquiry to examine in detail factors and circumstances that led deaths, rioting and general disorder on July 20. He disclosed that he has been in touch with the United Nations secretary general, who has agreed to send a senior official to be part of the commission of inquiry, which he said would also include experts from the AU and SADC.

On fuel, the embattled president said he had established the National Oil Company, which be solely responsible for the importation of fuel in Malawi and that in order to conclusively deal with the erratic fuel supply, his government would construct six fuel reserve and storage, two in Mzuzu, two in Lilongwe and two in Blantyre, for petrol and diesel. These facilities would be ready within the next 12 months, he said.

The Head of State then said there have been put in place complete measures to foreign exchange earnings and that with tobacco prices improving, foreign exchange reserves position has shown marked improvement.

“We are now able to import and pay for essential commodities,” Mutharika enthused, highlighting the recent devaluation of the Kwacha as another measure that ensure further improvement in the foreign currency reserves.

On what he said are “bad laws”, he said it was parliament that had enacted them following laid down procedures and if they were to be reviewed, it was the same parliament that would review them.

President Mutharika said on the basis of such measures, the organizers of the August 17 demonstrations must carefully review their position. He said his government is working towards absolutely addressing issues affecting Malawians at all levels but that they cannot come to fruition all at one time.

He said if the organizers insist on taking to the streets, then Malawians should judge them as “irresponsible”.

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