The High Court in Lilongwe has granted human rights activists, the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) an injunction, restraining Lilongwe City Council from stopping the activists a scheduled peaceful protests up to Kamuzu Palace, the official residence of President Peter Mutharika.
The late evening injunction allows HRDC to hold the peaceful protests up to Kamuzu Palace where they intend to present a petition to President Mutharika.
Earlier in the day, HRDC national chairperson Timothy Mtambo and vice chairperson Gift Trapence wrote the council, saying the law allows them to protest even to state residences.
“Section 38 of the Republic of Malawi Constitution as read with section 103 of the Police Act enjoin us to enjoy this right and we are alive to the later provision of the law (s 103 of the Police Act) and as such we shall endeavor, in the course of the demonstrations, not to parade ourselves within one hundred metres from the precincts of the state house,” says the letter in part.
Lilongwe City Council chief executive officer John Chome says in a letter that the HRDC could not hold protests at State House.
“Kamuzu palace is a state residence and therefore a protected area. The council would not allow you to demonstrate to the state residences in violation of section 103 of the Police Act,” says the letter.
But a political analyst George Phiri of the University of Livingstonia says it was the right thing to demonstrate right away at the home of the president.
“Innocent people have lost property yet the targets are safe,” said Phiri.
Another political analyst Thindwa from the University of Malawi said Malawians have a right to protest right away in the fence of Kamuzu palace and other state residences.
He said the buildings’ owners are Malawians themselves.