Concerned citizens ask Assets Authority to remove ‘racist’ expression from circular: ‘Indigenous Black Malawians’

Concerned citizens have written a petition to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) to remove the expression that states that all bids submitted for national competitive bidding must give preference to 60% Indigenous Black Malawians and 40% to others.

Hajat: One of the signatories

The concerned citizens, who are of Asian origin, coloureds, whites and people living with albinism, contend that the wording ‘Indigenous Black Malawians’ that is in the circular borders on racism.

The petition says: “In essence, the expression ‘Indigenous Malawian’ is a misnomer and is incapable of being meaningfully defined and should be completely removed and forgotten, not only in this poorly thought out definition but in all future legislation that relates to Malawians.

“That this has reared itself at this point in Malawi’s history is a clear indication that even our Parliamentarians are sadly misguided.

“This calls for a desperate need for the subject of citizenship and equality to be part of the civic education necessary in this Tonse Government Administration so that Malawians are not spoken of as Azungu or Amwenye, even by children in the villages who are conditioned by parents to view others as a different species.

“It, therefore, goes against the grain for government to use racist methods in attempt to level the economic benefits for the less privileged members of society. This can be done in a much more inclusive, well-meaning manner,” says the petition addressed to the Director General.

It has been copied to the Speaker of Parliament; the Ombudsman; the Attorney General; the Minister of Justice; the Minister of Education and the Minister of Information.

Prominent people among the signatories include, Rafik Hajat, Robert A. Jamieson, Roy Thornicroft, Krishna Achutan, Habiba Osman, Carver Bhima, Robert Coombes, Rolf Ramesh Patel, Mary Bapu, Alice Maida among others.

The circular, dated 1st July 2019, was addressed to all principal secretaries, chief executives of parastatal organisations, district commissioners, heads of departments as well as heads of all public institutions and copied to the Chief Secretary, Secretary to the Treasurer as well as the Auditor General.

The clause of the circular, referenced PPDA/01.22, is taken from Section 44 (10) of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act as amended by Parliament in August 2017 and the petitioners contend that this provision of the law runs counter to the express terms of the Republican Constitution.

They quote Chapter IV of the Constitution that specifically describes equality when it says: “Discrimination of persons in any form is prohibited and all persons are, under any law, guaranteed equal and effective protection against discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic of social origin, disability, property, birth or other status or condition”.

The petitioners say: “Great exception, therefore, is taken at the tone of this circular as it discriminates against anyone that does not appear to be either indigenous or black enough to participate in business on an equal footing in Malawi.

“This position is further entrenched in Section 29 and 30 of the same Chapter of the Republican Constitution on the right of citizens to participate fully in economic activity as well as to enjoy the right to development.

“The contention, therefore, is that this Section of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act promulgated by Parliament in 2017 runs counter to the express provisions of the Constitution in Chapter 1: Sections 4 and 5, which state that ‘any Act of Government or any Law that is inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution shall, to the extent of such inconsistency, be invalid’.

The petitioners further quote the law as saying a ‘black person’ means a dark skinned person who originates from Africa or whose ancestors originated from Africa and it shall include a coloured person and ‘citizen’ shall have the meaning ascribed in the Malawian Citizenship Act.

A ‘coloured person means a person who was born from at least one indigenous black Malawian parent and that ‘indigenous black Malawian’ means a Malawi Citizen who is an indigenous person and a black person.

As such, the petitioners contend that the word Indigenous is left hanging as it means a person originating or occurring naturally at a particular place in Malawi and who is not a settler or a colonial.

“Although the Preliminary Provisions try to clear up the issue of who is meant by Black or Indigenous, the issue is that many people in Malawi do not necessarily have black parentage and the explanation does not apply to them although they are true citizens.

“This despite the fact that they are neither settlers nor colonialists and therefore they are barred from being recognised as black or indigenous and therefore would not be allowed to freely conduct business in Malawi.

“The interpretations are nebulous in the extreme, and generally confusing. It is difficult to understand why such terms are still in use in Malawi like ‘coloured’, which is expressly forbidden in the Republican Constitution as it borders on creating a separate racial grouping, something that even the first President Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda forbade.

“We are not in an apartheid situation like South Africa where race distinctions were, and still are encouraged and are very stark. We believe this is a Malawi that should have the same racial distinctions as Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania.”

The petitioners recommends that any mention of black or of indigenous be removed from the PPDA Act and any other Act or law in Malawi as it runs counter to Constitutional provisions.

They further quote Article 1 and 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which Malawi ascribes to, that states: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood (Article 1).

And that: “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status (Article 2).

“Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.”

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WaWa
WaWa
9 months ago

Hajat is just a big mouth publicity seeker. He condones his Indian brothers bribing our leaders to corruptly award them contracts.
He uses his girlfriend at University of Malawi to fraudulently obtain grants from NGOs. Hajat is racist.

Ian Gumba
Ian Gumba
9 months ago

Amwenyewa amanena okha kuti dziko ndi wanu ndalama ndi wathu kutereku ndiye kuti si a Malawi eni eni ayi. 10% yomweyo yakwana chifukwa ndi anthu akuba ndi opanga exploit a Malawi.

Last edited 9 months ago by Ian Gumba
Barmanu
Barmanu
9 months ago

Anyone who has claimed citizenship through naturalization or other channel taking advantage of the constitution may be a citizen of Malawi but not native Malawian. Mr. Hajat himself does not qualify as a native according to his documented definition. We should learn from how native Americans were treated and exploited by colonial, even today. There is no room for native Malawian entrepreneurs in current circumstances unless native intellectuals gather to defend the constitution, before its distorted. The only thing that needs to be amended in the circular is the word “black” which is a racist remark. Anyone who is offspring… Read more »

Masharubu
Masharubu
9 months ago

If our public officials and all major decision makers in our govt departments and ministries were patriotic enough, there would have been no need for this circular. Bwenzi tikungopanga za “kadziwa mwini, mkhuto wa fulu (tortoise)” , and ensure that all lucrative govt tenders/contracts are given to our own people, “coloureds” and people with albinism inclusive. We have been taken for a ride for too long by these crooked mwenyes who rape our economy and export the illegally (corruption and fraud) gotten wealth to either UK or Dubai because, in the first place, they don’t give a hoot about this… Read more »

ERUTU
ERUTU
9 months ago

BRITISH COLONIAL GOVERNMENT CENSUS DESCRIPTIONS 1. Black people = NATIVES 2. White people = EUROPEANS 3. Amwenye = INDIANS 4. Mixed race people = COLOUREDS COLOURED people is a racist description of people who either of their parents are of BLACK AFRICAN/INDIAN/EUROPEAN descent. In UK people called COLOURED are termed as of Black African, Asian and Mixed Race descent. In Malawi this only applies to mixed race people and this terminology was coined by the British Colonial Government. Everyone who’s not European by descent is termed as COLOURED in the UK. Whoooah AM a COLOURED (MKARADI) according to UK charting… Read more »

GRM
GRM
9 months ago

Actually the section should have read contracts will be given to INDIGENOUS BLACK MALAWIANS COMPARED TO FOREIGN ASIANS/EUROPEANS AT 90% TO 10%

Tchaka Chinkhuntha
Tchaka Chinkhuntha
9 months ago

Coloureds, people living with albinism and Indians are all classified as black people

However government should focus much on developing it’s own people if we want to change as a country not otherway round.

Napoleon
Napoleon
9 months ago

Under colonialism – only whites were given preferential treatment. Everyone else was second class including Indians. Under Kamuzu he herded Indians to only do business in certain areas and restricted what trades they could go into. He separated them from us and today we complain when SOME of them do not integrate. They have reason people, they were segregated from the start. Let’s not be prejudiced. Let’s be realistic the big money in Malawi is in agriculture and that is dominated by the whites, but we don’t see that money as they spend it overseas and don’t like to show… Read more »

Jasper Buncarro Around the World
Jasper Buncarro Around the World
9 months ago
Reply to  Napoleon

The money went to mwenyez when Bakali sold them companies that were opened by Kamuzu during privatization.

Ray
Ray
9 months ago

Rephrase please and make every Malawian equal. The problem now is that our Indian friends are given the Lions share. The solution is simply to make and ensure that all things are equal basi. You can set up a tenders board that keeps it’s eyes specifically on that

Last edited 9 months ago by Ray
Abdul K
Abdul K
9 months ago

Give me a break. Asians are hiding behind this with their foolish unloving attitude. They are disgusting folks.

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