CSO gives Mutharika March deadline to resolve crisis

Civil society organisations (CSOs) have set a deadline for President Bingu wa Mutharika to provide solutions to problems causing misery to citizens or again, face nationwide mass demonstrations. The deadline is three months from now, March 2012.

CSOs resolved at their Mangochi meeting last month to opt for protests should government fail to meet this new deadline.

Leaders of the Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC), the Council for Non Governmental Organisations (Congoma) and the Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) accuse the government of mocking Malawians by insisting that all is well when cost of living continues to skyrocket and basic goods, including maize, whose price has been increased by 50%, are being rationed.

Kondowe: Mutharika must resolve the crisis, or else face demos in March 2012

Government spokesperson Patricia Kaliati has hit back at the CSOs, urging them to present their issues to the Presidential Contact and Dialogue Group (PCDG) team which is still discussing the 20-point petition civil society presented to government on July 20.

“Civil society will not be party to any dialogue that is not bringing much hope and so will the people of Malawi after March,” the Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC), Benedicto Kondowe, has been quoted by local media.

Congoma chairperson Voice Mhone concurs, arguing the only viable option for Malawians are anti-government protests.

Mhone is quoted saying: “There is a task team on the ground that is evaluating options on avenues that will be employed should the dialogue be successful or not successful. CSOs are going to hold a national conference soon after the dialogue process. Progress will be gauged and a consensus on the next move of action will be reached.”

He said the protests will have to be well coordinated to avoid loss of life and property as was the case with the July 20 demonstrations.

Among other things, through the March 2012 protests Malawians may call for impeachment, referendum in order to seek new mandate, a government of national unity, or resignation of the President.

The CSO leader also rubbished the notion that these ideas are foreign saying: “All these ideas are not imported from the Western world; some have worked within the Sadc region in the case of former [South African] president Thabo Mbeki who bowed down to wishes of the people of South Africa.”

In his Christmas message to the nation, Mutharika blamed Satan, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) for the challenges. He added investors and the IMF’s insistence on devaluation of the Kwacha a few days later.

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