Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president and leader of opposition in Parliament Lazarus Chakwera has endorsed plans by the civil society organisations (CSOs) to hold nationwide protests on April 27 to petition President Peter Mutharika and his administration on governance shortcomings.
Chakwera endorsed the demos as representatives of the CSOs on Tuesday delivered their notification letter to authorities, notably Lilongwe City Council, Lilongwe District Council and Lilongwe Police Station.
The MCP president has not indicated whether the party will take part in an anti-government protest but said he was in support of the demos.
Chakwera said he was a first person to protest about the disbursement of the K4 billion to legislators in his speech when Parliament was rising.
The MCP president and opposition leader said he fully endorse the decision by CSOs to mobilise Malawians for a public protest on the April 27 “if the intent is what I already explained in Parliament.”
Initially, the MCP leader was part of the agreement by members of Parliament (MPs) to allocate the said amount to all the 193 MPs instead of the initial 80, before making a U-turn later.
The CSOs want Cabinet ministers Goodall Gondwe (Finance, Economic Planning and Development) and Kondwani Nankhumwa (Local Government and Rural Development); to voluntarily step down or the President should fire them for their roles in the K4 billion financial transaction and an annulment of the entire arrangement. The two ministers have insisted they did nothing wrong.
The influential quasi-religious grouping Public Affairs Committee (PAC) also endorsed the demonstrations.
PAC spokesperson Father Peter Mulomole said: “We are supporting the April 27 demos because they are being organised by fellow civil society organisations.”
Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) said it had opened investigations of the K4 billion issue, prompting the CSOs to call for the two ministers to step aside for proper investigations the way it happened with former minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda in the Maizegate issue.
The demonstrations will be held in Karonga, Mzuzu, Lilongwe, Blantyre and Zomba.
Leading newspaper, The Nation, said in its daily edition of Wednesday that the CSOs should be focused on the demo by setting the agenda.
In its editorial comment, the paper pointed out that holding of peaceful protests or demonstrations in the country is not a crime but a constitutional right of the citizens in accordance with Section 40  [d] of the Constitution.
But the paper urged the CSOs to sensitixe would-be participants they are mobilising fro the demonstratiojs to know their rights and indeed where they end.
“They should also organise good secueiry to check against undesirable elements who take advantage pf such events to loot shops or damage unsuspecting innocent people’s property,” it said.
It said the protests are not necessarily about numbers, but sending across the message, the size of the turnout nails the point home.
Among the CSOs that endorsed the demos are Human Rights Defenders Forum (HRDF), Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Cedep, Youth and Society (YAS), Public Affairs Committee (PAC), Citizens Forum for the Defense of Good Governance and Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR).Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :