CDEDI urges Malawians to stand up against draconian laws

The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has urged Malawians to be vigilant and keep a watchful eye on Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the main partner in the Tonse Alliance administration, fearing the party is on a mission to take the country back to dictatorship.

CDEDI executive director Sylvester Namiwa, addressing journalists in Lilongwe on Saturday morning, emphasized that it should be the responsibility of every citizens to guard against any attempt by MCP to slide the country back to the ‘darkest days of the one-party regime’.

Namiwa stressing a point during the news conference.-Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

Namiwa said it was evident that the party wants to use the National Assembly to introduce draconian laws, which are against the tenets of the country’s hard-earned democracy.

“Just one year down the line, President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera and his MCP are all over town, grabbing everyone by the neck in their effort to take the country back to where it was, some 27 years ago. MCP is trying all it could to take back Malawi to the darkest years when some selfish politicians, led by Malawi’s first President, the late Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, abused their powers and began changing the country’s laws willy-nilly. This, we cannot, and should not accept, in this era,” he emphasized.

Namiwa said it is sad that President Chakwera and his Tonse Alliance government are advancing draconian laws designed to stop citizens from exercising their right to demonstrate against any infringements on their human rights albeit they are the biggest beneficiaries of demonstrations.

“Today, we are seeing the traits of the one-party regime in President Chakwera, who is busy dismantling and crippling the judiciary, in order to clear the way for his ill intentions. Dr. Chakwera is busy introducing very strange bills in Parliament, which aim to take away people’s right to industrial protests, which all along employees in the country enjoyed. This must be stopped, at all cost!” he said.

Commenting on the contentious proposed amendments to the Labour Relations Act, Namiwa warned Chakwera against entertaining introduction of laws that infringe on the rights of workers.

He emphasized that, just as it is provided for in the labour laws, workers are within their rights to down tools upon issuance of notice, without the fear to have their salaries/wages deducted.

He said the law was coined this way, to protect defenceless employees from harsh treatment from their employers simply for exercising their rights.

“But we know it, and you should feel ashamed! We know having failed to negotiate with Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) on their demands, and as we know they usually go on strike, you’ve decided to scare teachers through this draconian law that don’t make sense at all. Be ashamed. Teachers are human beings and we are all here because of them, this is not the way they should be paid back.

“Today, the Tonse administration, for all bad which we know, carelessly tampered with the Labour Laws and pushed an amendment to the effect that employers would be at liberty to deduct salary/wage from an employee who goes on a strike-what a load on nonsense is this,” fumed the firebrand activist.

Namiwa alleged that the other target group for the Chakwera administration is the medical personnel who usually turn to strikes to force the government to improve their conditions of service.

He said it is dangerous for the incumbent administration to think that it can control the civil service workforce through introductions or amendments of bad laws.

“That’s bad leadership style that belongs to the darkest years Malawi experienced under MCP’s one party era. Let President Chakwera be reminded that human rights are non-negotiable. We will, therefore, not allow selfish politicians to take away people’s rights to demand what is rightfully theirs,” he vowed.

On the amended and passed Taxation Act, CDEDI says it is dismayed to note that at a time when government was expected to waive some taxes to allow for the small and medium business operators, especially those involved in cross border trade, to recover or at least survive the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Chakwera administration is ‘shamelessly’ introducing new punitive advance income tax that will drive more people, especially women, into untold poverty.

The organization claims that Malawians have now realized that the trust, which they had in the public reforms, has been betrayed by such laws being introduced in parliament.

Namiwa alleged that Chakwera and Chilima have found their campaign promises too huge a mountain to climb, and their misplaced priorities too costly to rectify; hence, the introduction of draconian laws to scare away citizens from questioning actions of the authorities.

“Instead of acting very decisively on the shameful theft and plunder of public resources which is being orchestrated by high profile political party officials from the Tonse Alliance partners, the two leaders have heartlessly authorized the very same thieves to unleash terror on the poor and the marginalized, through the introduction of punitive taxes in order to cover up the yawning gaps in the porous public purse.

“We cannot afford to continue like this, as a country. Abusing taxpayers money has so far been the trademark for the current Tonse Alliance led administration. While the country is still waiting with baited breath for a report from Dr. Chakwera on the aborted 2020 Independence Day celebrations, the administration went ahead with preparations for the same celebrations this year, without any iota of shame! We will continue reminding Dr. Chakwera about the 2020 Independence Day celebrations report,” emphasized Namiwa.

“We challenge Chakwera not to assent to the punitive advance income tax bill, and take back all the bad laws, especially the Labour Amendments Act, which we believe is drafted to stop the civil servants, specifically teachers, who have recently proven to be a thorn in the flesh of the Chakwera administration,” he said.

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