Organisers of the April 27 peaceful demonstrations are today, Monday, meeting the police in order to discuss how best the law enforcers can provide security during the protests.
It is also expected that the police would ask the organisers to change the route the civil society organisations originally planned, a request, Human Rights Defenders Forum chairperson Timothy Mtambo, who is leading CSOs organising the protests, said would be turned down.
The CSOs original plan is to have the protesters walk from Lilongwe Community Centre ground, via the city route to Kamuzu Palace but it seems the police want the demonstrators to use the usual Area 18 round about route via parliament route.
It is also not known whether the police would allow the protesters to present their petition to Kamuzu Palace.
Mtambo said the protesters would insist in presenting their petition to President Peter Mutharika directly rather than his proxy, a demand State House has rejected.
“The State House has not given us reasons why our chief public servant is refusing to receive the petition. If he refuses to receive it, we will channel it to him through other means,” said Mtambo.
He said it is cowardice when a leader refuses to receive concerns from his people.
Mtambo said they have previously delivered many petitions through other channels to Mutharika, but they have not seen any change; hence, the decision to deliver the petition direct to the President this time around.
He said: “Mutharika is our President, our servant and employee. So, as employers, we want to deliver our concerns direct to our servant.
“There is a contract between the President and citizens and that his powers are delegated powers by us and that they [the powers] can only be sustained on trust.
“If Mutharika does not want to receive the petition, then we will know that he is not a leader enough. What is this kind of a leader who always runs away from his people? He does not want to face Parliament for questions, yet he also runs away to face citizens? Can we say he is a coward or what?”
Mtambo also said the CSOs would press for the electoral reforms.
“We want the electoral reforms tabled, debated and passed in this June seating of parliament,” said Mtambo.
The CSOs said their decision to stage protests follows inconsistencies, illegality and suspicions that characterised the K4 billion ‘budget by-pass’ pay-out that raises governance and accountability questions.
Through the demonstrations, which the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and others are supporting, the CSOs are demanding cancellation of disbursement of the K4 billion fund and the resignation of Cabinet ministers Goodall Gondwe (Finance, Economic Planning and Development) and Kondwani Nankhumwa (Local Government and Rural Development) over their roles in the scam.
The demonstrations are set to be held under the theme For How Long Shall Malawians Continue To Be Taken for Granted? Loss of Public Trust in the Current Administration: Time to Reclaim Our Destiny.
The CSOs argue that the K4 billion allocation is illegal and not in the best interest of Malawians; hence, the need to immediately cancel it.
The groups also want the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to investigate allegations that government bribed some MPs from opposition parties to frustrate the Electoral Reforms Bills through rejection, abstaining or absenteeism during last November sitting of Parliament.
Besides, the protests will also be held over continued blackouts and government’s K45.2 billion bailout to State produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) without seeking parliamentary approval in 2017.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration has also been challenged to free taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation and act on all proposed reforms by PAC and the Law Commission’s report on the review of electoral laws (2017).
The K4 billion issue—that initially saw 86 legislators mostly affiliated to the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and its working partners getting about K40 million each—came to the fore during the Mid-Year Budget Review Meeting in Parliament in February.
But Nankhumwa clarified that both sides of the House decided to distribute the money equally, meaning that each of the 193 legislators would now receive K20.7 million.
However, the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) later made a U-turn, saying it does not want to be party to the fund.
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