Ex-political exiles threaten vigil at OPC over delayed reparations

The Association of Returnees and Ex-political detainees has threatened to hold a vigil at the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) in Lilongwe over what they have described as delayed justice in the payment of reparations to ‘innocent Malawians who were victims of various atrocities perpetrated by the one-party regime’.

Mkandawire reading a statement before the journalists in Lilongwe–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

The association’s chairperson Sangwani Kaswaya Mkandawire alleged that there is a deliberate tactic by the Tonse Alliance government to frustrate their push to get their reparations despite President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera making public declarations before the court-sanctioned Fresh Presidential Election that his administration would want to deal with this issue once and for all.

Mkandawire made the remarks in Lilongwe during a press briefing members of the association to update the nation on the progress the government has made in fulfilling the determination of the Office of the Ombudsman on the matter.

A press briefing by returnees and ex-detatinees in Lilongwe on Monday–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

The former Ombudsman Martha Chizuma ordered the State to pay reparations to the victims.

However, the association says there has been no indication from the government on when it intends to pay them the compensations.

“We observe that the pledge to establish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is one of the key promises and commitments made in the Malawi Congress Party manifesto of 2019.

“We also observe that the promise to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission came against the background of an investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman, which ordered the government to settle 23, 519 unsettled by the National Compensation Tribunal.

“However, almost a year has passed since the MCP-led Tonse Alliance government came to power, but has up until now been procrastinating in honouring its commitment,” said Mkandawire.

He said the returnees and ex-detainees are tired of the continued delaying tactics, which he alleged have now become synonymous with the Tonse Alliance’s attitude to their issue.

Mkandawire emphasized that their engagements with the government, through the Minister of Civic Education and National Unity, Timothy Pagonachi Mtambo, have also failed to yield their most-desired results.

He said it is against this background that the members have resolved to take to OPC to present their grievances.

“We will not leave OPC until we are sorted out. We are not afraid of dying because we have died so many deaths before,” said the association’s publicity secretary, Alexander Msiska.

But speaking in Dowa earlier, Mtambo disclosed that the government, through his ministry, is exploring ways of sorting out the grievances from past atrocities that some people suffered under government machinery.

Mtambo said this would help in removing anger and pain in the victims and their family members thereby bringing about reconciliation.

“This is important in the new Malawi,” he said.

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