The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for Development of People (Cedep) are expressing great shock with what they say continued silence and failure by the Malawi government to address the devastating problem of water and electricity crisis in the cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe.
The two cities have recently been hit by water shortage and intermitted power outages. For instance, for two weeks now residents of Blantyre are going without a drop of water from the tap, despite claims by the Blantyre Water Board that it is distributing water through bowsers.
The electricity blackout has become the order of the day especially in the cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe, and there seems to be no feasible, lasting solution to the problems.
In a joint statement signed by CHRR and Cedep executive directors Timothy Mtambo and Gift Trapence respectively, the two human rights groups say they recognize the unrelenting efforts exerted by consumer rights activists, the media and concerned members of the public on government and the relevant bodies to resolve the crisis “ but such attempts have failed to yield any feasible response from government,”
On January 13 during demonstrations) Civil Society organizations working in the realm of human rights, governance, health and HIV/AIDS presented a petition to President Peter Mutharika through the relevant officials in which amongst other issues were demands on government to address the water and electricity crisis especially in the cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe.
“But till to-date the CSOs and the general public have not got any response from government let alone a confirmation of receipt of the petition by OPC on all the pressing issues raised in the petition including those pertaining to water and electricity crisis,” the statement reads.
“More shocking has been government’s business as usual approach (as expressed in its continued silence and use of propaganda on issues of national importance) to the whole saga a scenario that has only managed to sow seeds of discontent and displeasure in the public who have all along waited for the leadership’s swift and robust response to the crisis which can arguably be said to be another national disaster requiring special and urgent response,” the rights campaigners pointed out.
The organizations say as they appreciate government’s dedication, attention and remarkable efforts bent at addressing the current flood disaster which has negatively affected the country, they also realize that government has the constitutional and human rights obligations to protect and promote the rights to water and sanitation.
United Nations General Assembly has since 2010, recognized the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation and the Human Rights Council reaffirmed this recognition .
“It is therefore premised on such that any possible excuse that government is too committed with the current flood disaster to the extent that it cannot have time to look at other issues of national importance like the current electricity and water problems have no legal and human rights justification or basis.
“The fact that government is currently engrossed in addressing the current flood disaster does not necessary mean it has to suspend all, other, operations or governments’ business.
“That’s the reason why there are ministries, departments created to address various specific issues of national importance just to ensure progressive development.”
CHRR and Cedep have since asked government to adhere to its constitutional and human rights obligations by urgently addressing the current water and electricity crisis and save the nation.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :