Social-political commentators have encouraged the Vice President Dr. Saulos Chilima to receive the Civil society organisations (CSOs) April 27 demonstration petition in person, arguing that this would indirectly send the message that Chilima is a servant leader who cares about the concerns raised in the petition by the citizens.
The CSOs under the burner of human rights defenders forum requested that President Peter Mutharika should personally receive the petition and not delegate the task to anyone.
But State House through presidential spokesman Mgeme Kalilani rubbished the demand as ‘wishful thinking’ allegedly because the President is not party to the protests.
Just a few days ago the Police barred the CSOs from presenting the petition to the State House for security reasons as the State House area is said to be a protected area.
While insisting that the CSOs did not see anything wrong in presenting the petition direct to Mutharika, Human Rights Defenders Forum Chairperson Timothy Mtambo said if President Mutharika was not willing to receive the petition in person the citizens would proceed to petition the Vice President Chilima at Capital Hill in Lilongwe.
“In fact, we have formally written the Vice President Right Hon. Saulos Klaus Chilima as Mutharika’s deputy to receive the petition on his behalf and letter submit to him. As we have all along said the nature of the issues we are dealing with here requires that the chief duty bearer – who happens to be the President- is presented with in person. However, since the President is running away from his own people then certainly we have no choice but to present these issues to his Vice – who also happens to be the one he delegated to be in charge of the country as he is away in UK for official business” said Mtambo.
Weekend Nation newspaper Editor and seasoned columnist Steven Nhlane faulted Mutharika for refusing to accept the citizens’ petition and further urged Chilima to go for it and receive the petition on 27 April 2018.
“State House is clearly missing the point on the objective of the protests and petition. It is CSOs which have the support of many Malawians that have organised the protests, and they are saying that if the President cares about their concerns, he should be the one to receive the petition. Fair enough. They are not asking for something that is impossible. The President is only supposed to act on the petition. All that they are saying is that personally receiving the petition will give it the importance and urgency to act upon its contents”, argued Nhlane in his column.
Added Nhlane: “But by dismissing the request that the President should personally receive the petition, the message he is sending to the CSOs and the general public is that he does not care about what they want to communicate. It also vindicates CSOs fears that government does not take their petitions seriously when they are received by other officials (technocrats)”
Nhlane said by refusing to receive the petition the President is now surrendering that advantage to his number two, who some in DPP already think he is better placed to be the party’s torchbearer in next year’s elections to get the limelight.
“Now we know with certainty that the President will not personally receive the petition because he will still be outside the country on April 27. And so the organisers have said the one holding the fort should now receive the petition. If Saulos was to listen to my two tambala advice, I would say, go for it. After all even if government fails to address the concerns the CSOs raised in the petition, the buck does not stop at you. It’s not you who will get the flak. Don’t say the Bwana said he would not receive it and who am I to do so? It is the DPP youth who are pulling away the carpet off the Bwana’s feet. Not you”, wrote Nhlane in his weekly column Off the Shelf.
However, Mzuzu-based governance analyst Mankhumbo Munthali has said the CSO’s plans to petition the President through Chilima provides a litmus test to Chilima’s leadership.
“This is certainly a tricky situation for the Vice President but at the end of the day he has no choice but to come out of his cocoon and be decisive on the matter- whether to receive the petition or not. This situation provides a real litmus test for Dr. Chilima’s leadership abilities mindful of the fact that the Vice President has all along publicly portrayed himself as a servant and transformational leader – or the man of the people- who shares the concerns of Malawians.
“Certainly, the Vice President will have to choose as to whether be on the side of the oppressed poor Malawians by receiving the petition and possibly face political repercussions from the DPP inner circle or side with Mutharika and DPP inner circle by rejecting to receive the petition. Whatever the case Malawians will be able to assess Chilima as to whether he lives by what he preaches or not by just looking at the way he will handle the issue. Unlike the current Carrista hurricane saga, adopting a “silent approach” on the matter may not work in this situation which requires him to be decisive before 27th April 2018. So it will be interesting to see how he resolves this puzzle,” said Munthali.
Amongst the key concernes outlined in the CSOs “10 Point-Demands” to be presented during 27th April 2018 demonstrations in Mzuzu, Lilongwe, Blantyre and Zomba include the DPP initiated K4 Billion miracle money fund to reward MPs who rejected electoral reforms; the resignation of Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe and Minister of Local Government Kondwani Nankhumwa; the re-tabling and passing of electoral reforms; shortage of drugs and medical personels in hospitals; dwindling education standards; electricity blackouts despite procurement of generators; the killings of persons with albinism; delayed justice on extrajudicial killings of Chasowa, and Njaunju; and APM to reverse the appointment of Rodney Jose as Police Chief.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :