Civil society organisations (CSOs) say another nationwide protest on September 7 to protest against what they call President Peter Mutharika’s inaction over their petition at the April 27 demonstrations is going ahead as planned and that they have added fresh issues of concerns.
A member of the Human Rights Defenders Forum Gift Trapence has confirmed of the new date for the nationwide protests after the government failed to address to the April 27 petition grievances.
“We will demand that President Mutharika steps down,” said Trapence.
The CSOs want Mutharika to resign over claims that he and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) received about K145 million (about $195 000) from a contractor supplying food rations to Malawi police.
“We gave the President an ultimatum to resign after 14 days but he has not and we will take to the streets,” Trapence said.
But Mutharika has defended himself, arguing that it was an “honest” donation from Pioneer Investment Limited deposited in DPP account for which he is a sole signatory, saying there was nothing sinister about it.
Speaking to Malawi Broadcasting Corporation’s (MBC) Talk to the President programme, Mutharika repeated claims his party has made before that he did not know the donation which is suspected to have been proceeds of a crime.
“All over the world people receive donations and it is normal for people to receive donations,” said Mutharika on MBC.
Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi, who is the official government spokesperson, said the CSOs have “pathological hatred” against the Mutharika administration.
“From 2014 the CSOs have always planned against the government,” said Dausi on Times Radio on Saturday.
Media reports and a leaked Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) document indicated that Mutharika was involved in a K2.3 billion Malawi Police Service and Pioneer Investments supply deal where he pocketed K145 million that the supplier deposited in a DPP account for which he is a sole signatory.
The DPP said they would pay back the money; a decision law lecturer at Chancellor College, Mwiza Nkhata, said does not take away the suspected offence committed since the pay back maybe understood as admission of wrongdoing.
Malawi Law Society president Alfred Majamanda also commented in the local press that the return of money by DPP could be construed as admission of guilt.
Malawi, one of the world’s poorest and aid-dependent countries, will hold presidential, parliamentary and local government elections in May 2019.
Graft cases have recently rocked Malawian politics.
Mutharika was elected in 2014 after his predecessor Joyce Banda was embroiled in the “Cashgate” scandal when government officials siphoned off millions of dollars of public money.
Banda is also interested to run in the elections against Mutharika.
In April, thousands of Malawians took part in the country’s first nationwide anti-government demonstrations since 2011.
The marches, organised by civil action groups, were against alleged corruption and poor governance under Mutharika.
The CSOs expressed dissatisfaction with the newly introduced community managed social-economic projects fund (CSF) system of implementing district funding from the controversial K4 billion.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :