A prominent Malawian civil rights activist, Rafiq Hajat , says he will continue to soldier on in his activism role, saying the reason he became an activist was to fight poverty among poor Malawians and not to get government appointments.
Hajat , who is head of Blantyre-based think tank Institute for Policy Interaction, told Nyasa Times that rumours circulating that he and several other activists, who strongly opposed Bingu wa Mutharika’ss tyrannical regime, are in bad books with President Joyce Banda because he has not be rewarded with a post in government, were baseless
“First of all, it is President’s prerogative to appoint Malawians of her choice to serve in various capacities, but let me make it a point here that I don’t expect any favour from the president. As such it will be very illogical for me to claim that she has abandoned me. My personal view is that her success borders on national support so if we are to join forces and support her good policies then the country will be able to move forward.
“Frankly speaking, since she came to power we have only talked once. We met at a public function and she told me that ‘Rafiq it is now safe to come home’. However, this does not mean we’re in bad books because I don’t remember the day we became best friends either. My priority right now is to continue assisting poor Malawians to seek justice,” he added.
Protests ideal for democracy
Meanwhile, Hajat disclosed that if the alarming poverty growth is not curtailed at least by 2014 then he would have no choice but to back to the streets and protest.
Hajat warned: “I will not rest until am satisfied that wealthy is evenly trickling to the poor. My fight against Bingu was not personal rather I was against his brutal system now since he is gone I really expect a lot from this government in terms of performance.
“On July 20th we handed over a 20 point petition to the government and I expect the present government to implement some of the points raised because that was a road map.
“Aas a country we needed to optimize on our resources at the same time minimizing liabilities in order to create growth. Otherwise the post July 20th Malawians are more eager and empowered and ready to fight for what belongs to them in an event that things are going astray.”
Active on the ground
Asked on why he has gone quiet since the downfall of Mutharika and DPP legacy, Hajat responded:“Me going quite? You must be joking. I haven’t eaten any sikono. I’m smoothly active on the ground. As I said earlier my concern right now is the looming hunger where over 1.5 million people are on the verge of dying due to starvation so my priority is now on helping government to find solutions.”
On the same, the IPI director also shared his displeasure with President Banda for refusing to declare her assets arguing.
“If the Attorney General is saying the president already declared her assets when she was vice president then why can’t she simply declare same assets she declared previously? The last thing I expect in our beloved country is fighting another monster like Bingu, I don’t think we’re ready for that unless we’re pushed to do that then we will be left with no choice but to bleed for the sake of our country.”
Hajat paid dearly on his dissenting views against the Mutharika regime when alleged ruling party thugs gutted down his IPI offices in Chichiri, Blantyre.
He was one of the activists that rose up to speak out against the ill-treatment president Banda suffered at the hands of the Mutharika administration.
The exclusive interview with Hajat comes at a time when most civil society actors that were vocal during the reign Mutharika have equivocally gone quite as they are no longer providing checks and balances to the government.
While some of the renowned activists have been given presidential appointments to serve in various parastatals and government departments, others have smoothly gone under the carpet, a development other analysts described as too dangerous for the the country’s democracy.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :