Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has accused President Peter Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-led administration of hiding behind the deadly coronavirus (Covid-19) to violate the rights of the people.
HRDC chairperson Timothy Mtambo claimed they have it on authority that the Mutharika’s administration intends to take advantage of the Covid-19 to trample on the rights of Malawians.
Mtambo made the remarks in Lilongwe on Tuesday when the coalition addressed journalists on the new strategies they will take in their struggle to force the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah and the Commissioners to resign in light of the presidential restriction on gatherings of more than 100 people.
“Whether someone likes it or not, no one will stop change. And we are ready to bring that change because Malawians are tired of the dictatorial tendencies demonstrated by the President and Jane Ansah. We are saying Jane Ansah, get out because you have no mandate to be in that position,” he said.
However, Mtambo, who sounded emotional in all his address, announced that the coalition has suspended street protests in respect of the restriction on gatherings of more than 100 people toprevent the spread of Covid-19 into the country.
He said they are seeking guidance from their lawyers on what they can do to achieve their goal of forcing Ansah and the other Commissioners out of office.
“As HRDC, we do realise the seriousness and deadliness of Covid-19. So, we do not want to risk the lives of Malawians by taking to the streets for now. But we are not saying we have cancelled the protests,” stressed Mtambo.
The HRDC vice chairperson, Gift Trapence, said their recent arrest has given them more vigour to stand and defend citizens’ rights in the country.
Trapence urged the DPP-led regime to stop using police arrests to intimidate human rights activists, warning that government risks facing unspecified action should the practice continue.
“HRDC ilipo ndipo idzakhalapo! Kaya kuli mfiti, kaya kulibe mfiti, palibe kuopa. Tikudziwa kuti Amalawi ena anali ndi nkhawa kuti mwina chifukwa chomangidwa ndiye kuti atsogoleri a HRDC abwerera mmbuyo. Koma tikufuna tinenetse kuti palibe kubwerera mmbuyo pa nkhani yomenyera ufulu wa anthu mdziko muno. [HRDC is here to stay whether there are witches and wizards or not. We know some Malawians had fears that our recent arrest would make us relent, but we wish to assure you that we are not relenting. We are not moving an inch in our struggle for good governance and human rights],” he said.
Meanwhile, the HRDC members have asked government to come up with tangible measures for preventing COVID-19, arguing the current measures were aimed at cracking down on innocent Malawians by limiting their rights.
The members also suspected that government could be using the measures to justify theft of public resources through illegal expenditures.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :