Despite the Malawi Government granting some of the demands a political rights activist Bon Kalindo made during his meeting with Cabinet ministers on Tuesday, some civil society organizations (CSOs) have described the meeting as a big insult to Malawians.
The disgruntled CSOs comprise the Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI), Social Revolution Movement (SRM), Human Rights Ambassadors (HRA), Forum for Democracy and Rights Defenders (FDRD) and the Mzuzu Youth Caucus.
Leaders of the five organizations held a joint virtual press briefing on Wednesday where they distanced themselves from “the purported meeting by one Mr. Bon Kalindo, and the Cabinet Ministers, which is reported to have taken place on Tuesday, November 30, 2021 in Lilongwe.”
Led by CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa, the CSO leaders argued that the said meeting was between the government and Mr. Kalindo, and not organizations that have been conducting demonstrations in the country.
“Simply put, what happened yesterday is total betrayal to Malawians, and an insult to their intelligence, if the outcome of the meeting is anything to go by,” said Namiwa.
Ironically, Namiwa and his FDRD counterpart Oliver Nakoma are some of the CSO leaders that physically attended and gave Kalindo moral support during his debut demonstration in Blantyre before following him to his second set of the mass protests in Lilongwe last Friday.
The disgruntled CSO leaders have since issued a statement in which they are assuring that they we will not relent on their pursuit for justice, and ensuring that President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera and his Tonse Alliance government should announce an economic recovery plan with a timeframe.
The statement has been signed by Namiwa himself, SRM Executive Director Phunziro Mvula, FDRD head Oliver Nakoma, Steve Chimwaza of HRA and Gomezgani Nkhoma of Mzuzu Youth Caucus.
They are demanding that Chakwera should provide clearly spelt out measures for cushioning the marginalized and the underprivileged, and give a clear road map to fulfil all his campaign promises made prior to the court-sanctioned June 23, 2020, Fresh Presidential Elections.
Namiwa and his colleagues have warned that failure by the Tonse Alliance government to meet their demands within seven days will be a catalyst for endless nationwide demonstrations.
“Apart from fixing the economy, Malawians would like government to immediately maintain the prices of fertilizer at MK4, 500 as promised, scrap off the punitive taxes on essential services and goods, act on theft of public funds by top government officials and create the much touted one million jobs for the youth.
“We are also demanding that the government should implement the MK15, 000 monthly allowance to those aged 65 and above, lower the tollgate fees to MK500 for small vehicles, and no more than MK5,000 for the heavy goods vehicles, revise the recent water and electricity tariffs, remove the generators at ESCOM,” reads the statement.
The concerned CSOs further want Chakwera to implement the cheaper passports and the drivers’ licenses that do not expire, trim the cabinet and fire all the advisors, review draconian laws (Labour Relations Act) and report on MK17.5 billion Covid funds.
“Meanwhile, we are giving government 7 (seven) days to announce the economic recovery plan as indicated above, in order to contain the escalating cost of living. Failure to do so, will call for a total shutdown demonstrations in all the 28 districts of the country,” warn the CSOs.
But Kalindo maintained that he is not speaking for CSOs, but Malawians who are feeling the pinch of the high cost of living.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :