Bishop Mtumbuka warns SADC Heads of State against pushing citizens to the limit

Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN) board chairperson Bishop Dr. Martin Mtumbuka has warned Heads of State and Government under the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to desist from pushing citizens to the limits.

Mtumbuka has also taken a swipe at African leaders for overlooking the pain that people suffer as a result of poor social and economic policies.

The fearless bishop, who also heads the Catholic Diocese of Karonga, made the remarks in Lilongwe on Thursday when he closed the Southern African People’s Solidarity Network (SAPSN).

Mtumbuka–Don’t lead your citizens to anger–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times (2)

SAPSN is a network of civil society organizations from the Southern Africa region challenging globalization by promoting pro-people socio-economic policies at national, regional, continental and global levels.

Mtumbuka said it is sad that most of the African leaders do not respect the rights of their people.

“I have one request to the Heads of State. Try to help Heads of State listen and monitor the temperature of their country; and, not to push the people to the limits so that things boil over. Usually Heads of State have been shielded from being told the truth as it is on the ground until things get out of control. Just make sure that get the government the right temperature as it is on the ground,” he said.

The cleric also criticized human rights defenders (HRDs) for being selective when pushing for enjoyment of human and people’s rights.

Mtumbuka wondered why the HRDs remained quiet when angry villagers surrounding Msundwe Trading Centre stoned a uniformed police officer to death and when protesters undressed a female police officer in Lilongwe.

“HRDs are well known in this country. They provided the platform to the people to express their pain. But I think they also have something to learn and improve on. There are two things that happened last year that are still painful in my heart. The undressing of a lady police officer in the City Centre. The killing of a uniformed police officer at Msundwe,” he mourned.

“Uniformed police officers and Malawi Defence Forces are symbols of the State. And to undress, to maim, to kill a uniformed officer is piercing the heart of the State. It’s like me burning a flag of our country. It’s a very serious offence. So, I hope that next we have to do something, we try to ensure that things don’t go that way. We are rights defenders, but what about the rights of that lady who was undressed there? What about the rights of a police officer who was killed there?” asked Mtumbuka.

Speaking earlier, the Presidential Advisor on NGOs, Martha Kwataine, encouraged delegates to continue following the path of contact and dialogue with the SADC governments.

Kwataine assured that the Tonse government, under President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, is committed to working with non-state actors in championing development for the people.

“I have one plea to make. Our cordial working relationship should be embarked and nurtured by ensuring that both parties are committed to their mandates. While CSOs may not engage in big projects like road construction, hospitals, among others, non-state actors play a key role in social projects. The evidence informed policy advocacy provides sound alternatives views and options, which can make our governments deliver,” she said.

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