Government is planning on sending some of the most vocal leaders of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) as envoys to various diplomatic missions, a development some analysts have described as President Lazarus Chakwera’s Tonse-Alliance-led government’s way of stifling dissent.
HRDC has been instrumental in fighting corruption and various socio-political injustices in the country. It played a crucial role in demonstrations, led by then chairperson Timothy Mtambo whose results was the nullification of the May 21 tripartite election presidential poll and a subsequent June 23 2020 fresh presidential election in which Chakwera’s Malawi Congress Party (MCP), vice president Saulos Chilima’s UTM and nine other parties partnered to oust Peter Mutharika and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) from power.
Mtambo was roped in as cabinet minister in the Chakwera government, and is still Minister of Civic Education and National Unity.
Nyasa Times has reportedly learnt that government has made appointments of Luke Tembo, Billy Mayaya, Happy Mhango and Macdonald Sembereka—who accepted verbal offers but are yet to be confirmed by Parliament—to various foreign missions.
We also understand that HRDC chairperson, Gift Trapence, was also offered a posting but rejected it.
According to our impeccable sources Tembo, who is HRDC national coordinator has been assigned to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia while Mhango, regional chairperson for the northern region is set to go to Germany.
Sembereka, we are told, goes to Washington DC in the USA while Mayaya has been assigned to Brussels in Belgium.
In telephone interviews with Nyasa Times on Wednesday, Mhango and Mayaya said they had heard the rumours.
“I don’t know. I am just hearing the rumours,” said Mhango. On the other hand, Mayaya said: “I have no concrete information about it. There has been no official communication to me. But I have heard the rumours.”
Wonderful Mkhutche, a Lilongwe-based socio-political analyst, said it was normal that such a development would arise sooner than later.
“There are indeed rumours that some HRDC members have been appointed to go to foreign embassies. HRDC being one of the organizations that made political turnovers after the May 2019 elections, which gave way to the present Tonse Alliance-led government, it is normal for people to see it as a reward for their actions.
“But we must understand that the HRDC leaders are like all other citizens who are qualified for the job. We must, therefore, dwell much on how they will execute their new rumoured roles, based on their experience and knowledge.
“However, we must also not keep a blind eye to the fact that this is a political reward. This is unlike what was promised during the campaign. But above this, our attention must be on the capabilities of those appointed,” said Mkhutche.
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