Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has given President Peter Mutharika 20 days to respond to issues raised in their petition delivered after the September 21 2018 anti-government demonstrations across the country’s four cities,warning they will be back in the streets to protest in March should Mutharika fail to deal with the issues.
In a letter to the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) dated January 9 2019 signed by HRDC chairperson Timothy Mtambo and vice-chairperson Gift Trapence, the civil society organisations (CSOs) have asked President Mutharika to come up with a clear action plan in addressing their demands.
The CSOs demand return of K145 million which the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) benefitted from Pioneer Investment’s Zameer Karim from the proceeds of the Malawi Police Service food ration deal, action on 4.2 million litres theft of fuel at Escom, an end to corruption, killings of people with albinism and for DPP to stop inciting political violence and intimidation of activists.
They have also demanded that President Mutharika should address health and education woes, youth unemployment as well as gender equality gaps at all levels including at Cabinet.
“You Excellency Sir, we still demand tangible answers to the numerous issues that were raised in the citizen’s petitions: bringing to book all those involved in 4.2 million litres of theft of fuel at Escom and address blackout challenges; expedite the prosecution of suspects in the Police Rations Food scam, bring to book Isa Njauju and Robert Chasowa murderers,” reads the memo seen by Nyasa Times which has been signed by Mtambo, Trapence. Happy Mhango, Masauko Thawe and Billy Mayaya.
“We raised a number of pertinent issues but up to now, there is no response. We have written him again, this is the last time we have written him otherwise we will be back in the streets in March,” said Trapence.
But presidential press secretary and spokesperson Mgeme Kalilani insisted that the President does not take ultimatums.
Kalilani also trashed the CSOs saying they snubbed the invitation by government to a dialogue meeting that was set to discuss their concerns.
He wondered how the CSOs think “the matters they raised will be addressed without dialogue”.
Government spokesperson Henry Mussa questioned the CSOs on the timing of their protests.
“The CSOs should not be intimidating the president. He cannot work under threats and ultimatums,” said Mussa.
Mussa said Mutharika set up a committee to look into the issues raised by the CSOs, saying the president cannot be seeing everybody.
Malawi is set to hold presidential, parliamentary and local government elections on May 21.
Mutharika won the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections with a 36.4 percent vote and has faced a turbulent relationship with CSOs and opposition parties, including a breakaway faction of Vice-President Saulos Chilima and several former DPP national governing council (NGC) members who formed UTM party over concerns of deteriorating governance and economic affairs in the country.
Wedged between Mozambique and Zambia, Malawi is one of the world’s poorest nations with the majority of its 11.3 million-strong population living on less than a dollar a day.
Some political commentators have warned the President against ignoring CSOs as they represent Malawians or risk going into the May 21 polls “bruised and wounded”.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :