Govt decries aborted dialogue, ’very bad moment for Malawi’: Analyst says CSOs justified

Malawi government has expressed its disappointment over civil society organisations (CSOs) decision to withdraw from their planned dialogue, but governance expert has backed Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), accusing the authorities of attempting to derail Friday’s nationwide protests.

Dausi: Faults the sense of  ‘civil society dictatorship’ characterized with unbridled egos from the leadership of the HRDC

Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi, who is also the official government spokesperson, accused the HRDC of “uncivil manner and deliberate antagonist approaches” aimed at frustrating government’s intentions for deepening democracy and development through dialogue.

Dausi said in a statement that government is also perplexed with the excuses given by the CSOs considering that the so called rules of engagement for the dialogue process are ordinarily supposed to be developed, negotiated, and adopted in a collective manner and not imposed by one side as the CSOs conducted themselves.

He said government would leave the door open for dialogue with the civil society members to resolve any misunderstanding” without the sense of ‘civil society dictatorship’ characterized with unbridled egos from the leadership of the HRDC.”

Dausi said dialogue is a give and take process where every aspect of engagement is discussed on the dialogue table and nowhere else.

“This technical dialogue process is an opportunity for the CSOs to engage duty-bearers in a healthy conversation that brings results for advancing our national interest,” he added.

“Government wishes to remind the HRDC that their claim as champions of human rights loses meaning the moment they begin to carry a ‘know-it-all attitude’ and portraying that they are above anyone else in as far as matters of national interest are concerned, by imposing their wishes on others without creating room for a dialogue. This attitude erodes the image of the HRDC as they technically cease to be effective human rights defenders and leaves many wondering what they are actually defending,” reads the statement in part

But HRDC leaders told reporters in Lilongwe that they made a decision not to be on the dialogue table because government ignored their proposed terms of engagement, including having President Peter Mutharika or relevant Cabinet ministers in attendance.

They activists have since wrote the Chief Secretary to the Government, Lloyd Muhara, saying  they strongly believe government had a hidden agenda to sabotage and derail their planned demonstrations against corruption and impunity set for Friday, September 21 across four cities of Mzuzu, Lilongwe,  Blantyre and Zomba.

“We requested the senior government officials to be part of the dialogue for a purpose. Surprisingly, the government has opted to make vague reference to an unspecified ensemble of the so-called senior government officials. This is questionable,” said HRDC chairperson Timothy Mtambo.

In another news conference held  in Lilongwe  chairperson of the government negotiating team, who is also Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) Principal Secretary (Administration) Cliff Chiunda said the withdraw of the CSOs  is “a very bad moment for Malawi.”

But HRDC in a statement said the belated calls for dialogue and “overzealous propaganda trivialising this process” have led to their conclusion that the government is “simply playing games with us as they continue taking the suffering and voices of Malawians for granted.”

The activist queried if it is asking for too much when citizens who are employers are demanding to meet their servants.

“This attitude towards demands for transparency, accountability and rule of law does not assure any Malawian of prospects of fruitful contact and dialogue with the Government, even though we know that it was not genuine.”

The CSOs wonder why it took government 150 days to think about having a dialogue with citizens when it is just hours to demonstrations.

“We would like to notify you that we think that you are taking us for granted and we do not have time for political games when Malawians are suffering.

“Through this statement, we would like to inform government that HRDC will not engage in dialogue until such a time the President, Ministers and the senior government officials are available to engage the citizens,” reads the HRDC letter to OPC.

Governance expert and commentator Makhumbo Munthali ton Nyasa Times that dialogue must be based on principles of honesty and transparency, saying the CSOs are justifies in their action.

“What we saw completely defeated this whole principle as government could not disclose the identity of the so-called government technocrats who were to enter into dialogue with the CSOs. Besides, reasons were not given as to why the President would not attend the meeting. This on my view was a typical case of executive arrogance we have all along seen where the President has often been accorded the semi-god status where he cannot be approached by his people,” Munthali said.

“As a principal duty bearer and also mindful of some of the issues the CSOs were raising it was incumbent upon the President to face his critics and respond to their issues. This would have given the seriousness and political clout to the whole dialogue process,” he added.

Munthali said by failing to disclose the reason why the President would not attend when everyone knows he is in the country, the government side was indirectly communicating that the said dialogue was not a priority to the President and hence didn’t bother to even give explanation behind his absence.

He suspects a dialogue meeting was a brain-child of somebody within the President’s circles in order to score a political point in the eyes of the President.

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Mapwiya
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Mapwiya

A Kholowa what has the court ruled regarding who is supposed to receive the petition if you are following the issue?

Kholowa
Guest
Kholowa

Koma a mwapiya za too junior mwazitenga kwani? Nkhanizi kumazimvetsa.Petition akalandila apumbwa ochepela kabawo kuti adzachipatsile chi pumbwa chachikulicho chikabwelako ku ulayako.

Namalomba Fredrick
Guest
Namalomba Fredrick

This matchona grouping is full of crooks.

Mapwiya
Guest
Mapwiya

So who will receive their petition because the rest are too junior?

If there is a minister who is daft in this stupid
Guest
If there is a minister who is daft in this stupid

This is executive arrogance at its worse.

Watematema Mutu
Guest

This Goverment believes in hook and crook tactics to buy time. Let it be known that history will tell as to is more smarter between this DPP led government and the citizens who hold the power of voting.

Agenda Setting Theory
Guest
Agenda Setting Theory

This dialogue was initiated in bad faith. This demonstration was supposed to be on 7 September, two weeks ago, there was no talk of dialogue but a counter demo called the Blue March. What did DPP want to achieve?

Lilian Kaunda
Guest
Lilian Kaunda

The issues that concern us are prices of farm inputs, prices of farm produce. Government needs to address this apart from the rampant corruption.

Chibwatiko Mbekamachuni
Guest
Chibwatiko Mbekamachuni

CSO have called the government delegates to the meeting at ‘junoirs’. No problem. Who will receive their petition to government because for sure the very people they have called ‘Junoirs’ will be there. what if they snub to receive the petition? for sure no Minister will be available. If I were delegated by governement to receive this petition i will for sure respond I am too junior to receive this petition awone kopita nayo mxxiixi

Central
Guest
Central

Ngati munthu siunamvetse kumakhala bwino kufunsa! CSOs are saying they preferred to face the President and not anybody below – juniors to the President!! Why? Its because the President would give responses there and then, while anybody below would be saying they would take and report the issues to transpire in the proposed dialogue meeting back to the President and that would take more time [and could demand more than a month to get feedback]!!

Koma taoneni zomwe mukunena inu apa, nde mwamva zanuzanu za ku likwataaaaaaaaaaaaaa!! Mxiiiiiiiiiiiii

Chilima O'Chakwera
Guest
Chilima O'Chakwera

Akangokumana kunseu konko coz both sides are not happy with the conduct of each other. If I had a chance of meeting Mtambo and Trapence I could have reminded them that they should hold meetings with us for our opinion and cast a vote on issues affecting us not breeding them in their offices and tell us. It should be us telling them.

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