Civil Society warn Malawi Government to expect mass protests

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) says it is clear that the first half of President Lazarus Chakwera’s administration “has been a disappointment to Malawians and if the second half will resemble the first, then the Tonse Alliance Government should expect more mass protests and complete lost of Malawians trust”.

In its end of the year statement, HRDC has given the Tonse Alliance Government 2022 a score of 3/10 as Chakwera marks the mid-point of his Tonse Alliance’s five-year term in office.

“Half-way through the term, we at the HRDC — while recognising some progress made in infrastructure development — have largely seen continued weak and indecisive leadership and we join Malawians in enduring broken promises, detected deepening corruption and watched an economic catastrophe that has devastated the majority of the people and sent them into heart-breaking starvation,” says the statement.

Trapence–Rights are non-derogable

“Under Tonse Alliance, the country’s healthcare system is worse than in it was in June 2020 — with the government failing to contain diseases such as cholera and unable to provide drugs in hospitals even as our children’s education standards reach their lowest ebb.

“Malawi will end up being a failed state if President Chakwera is not radical in fulfilling what he promised Malawians in the run-up to the 2020 elections. If things continue to remain the same, the best he can do for this country is to pave way for others because at the rate things are going, Malawians cannot take it anymore.”

HRDC maintains that 2022 was such a bad year under President Chakwera such that, “if it were a car accident, it would have been declared a write-off” and thus calls upon the President “to radically work on the shortcomings of his government”.

However, HRDC outlines positive steps done on infrastructure development projects that have been initiated — such as roads, health facilities, school blocks to security personnel’s houses.

“However, HRDC would like to call upon President Chakwera’s administration to do more in the road infrastructure projects in the Eastern, Northern and Southern regions — including the Nsanje/Marka railway line. A sound road network is an engine for the economic development of this country and needs to be prioritized.”

The CSO accuses Chakwera of weak, indecisive leadership and wonders whether he and his Tonse Alliance “have any clear strategic direction for the country”, describing “what they promised and what they have done as a mismatch that is miles apart”.

“The country’s vision, MW2063 agenda and its first 10-year Implementation Plan, is not reflected both in the National Budget and in the President’s actions. The President himself appears weak, inept and indecisive, reversing his own decisions on a whim, allowing the corrupt to continue serving in the public service and basically letting everyone in his government do as they please.

“Virtually, the country is on autopilot and we worry that President Chakwera is driving Malawi into a ditch.”

HRDC also describes the current economic challenges being faced as a catastrophe, saying “the national economy, as well as households, are in turmoil and the  cost of living — as seen from the galloping double-digit inflation rates — has become unbearable”.

“The prices of goods and services, including food, are way out of the majority’s reach. In fact, a bag of maize is costing roughly half of the minimum wage and we wonder how the government thinks people are coping.

“Indeed, the year 2022 also saw an unprecedented cost of living crisis in which Malawian families struggled to pay for essential household items, pushing even more people into abject poverty.”

The statement contends that “all this is happening in a country where unemployment is high and the majority of those employed work for exploitative wages” and that the government “has also failed, and miserably so, to deal with the foreign currency shortage crisis, only relying on short-term measures such as borrowing from regional banks—which is only worsening the total public debt burden that the country is already suffocating under”.

“The fuel crisis may have eased, but we know that this is temporary relief and the fuel queues will be back with vengeance in the New Year once the secured lines of credit dry up and if government has not laid up clear plans on how fuel shortage will be prevented in future.”

On the unending energy crisis through constant power load shedding, HRDC views it as “one of the most glaring failures of the Tonse Administration more than one year after a Cyclone Ana hit generating plants”.

“Malawians have had to endure painful load-shedding programmes, sometimes going as long as 24 hours without electricity. As a result, industries suffered heavily as capacity utilisation collapsed, thousands of jobs were lost, bringing more pain to families who have already been suffering under a crippling economy.

“What was more painful to watch was the fact that those involved in restoring power kept missing deadlines without facing consequences — a clear sign of a leadership that has long gone to sleep.”

Chakwera gave Energy Generation Company (EGENCO) deadline of December to restore Kapichira Hydro Power Station which lost its 130 megawatts of power due to cyclone — a directive the company accepted to meet but come December, it has been shifted to April this year.

On the fight against corruption, HRDC says the Tonse Alliance Administration must be commended for making the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) more independent, “with the President assenting to a law that took out the requirement for the Bureau to seek consent from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to prosecute corruption cases”.

“The Adminsitration has also taken aggressive steps to capacitate the ACB by sharply increasing its budget and financing the recruitment of more staff to investigate and prosecute more effectively.

“But its failure to manage inter-office rivalry between the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), ACB and the Attorney General’s office has hamstrung the anti-graft drive so much so that the investments government has pushed in this endeavour appear to be wasted.

“The President and the Minister of Justice must deal with this mess once and for all. Probably, the lowest point of this administration was the unprofessional arrest and harassment of ACB Director General Ms. Martha Chizuma.

“We demand that once the Commission of Inquiry into Ms. Chizuma’s arrest comes out, the President must act decisively on those involved in embarrassing the ACB Director.

“We also demand that the Government should adequately fund ACB so that it carries out annual lifestyle audits of all Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament, presidential aids and/or advisors, senior officials in Ministries, Departments and Agencies and members of Executive Committees of National Governing Councils of all political parties represented in parliament.”

On agricultural inputs programme (AIP) and ADMARC mess, HRDC takes note “with horror, that the now watered-down AIP is facing a lot of challenges — from the botched, and sometimes suspected fraudulent and corrupt procurement processes to horrendous distribution that have made access to the critical input by poor farmers look like squeezing water out of sand.

“Worsening the situation was the chaotic closure of ADMARC, whose nationwide markets network has, for decades, anchored distribution of farm inputs. The messy handling of ADMARC alone clearly shows that the President is not in control of the key levers of government and that is the tragedy that Malawi finds itself facing.

“We thus urge the President and his administration to clean up the AIP mess as a matter of urgency to avoid starving the people again next year.

“Government must also institute investigations into the missing maize allegedly stolen at ADMARC and the National Food Reserve Agency,” says the statement signed by HRDC national chairperson and his governing committee.

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1 year ago

go ahead protest as much as you want, some of us use our valuable time to ensure we find honest means of sustaining our livelihood like
cultivating maize and beans instead of marching in the streets carrying placards

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