Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has warned President Lazarus Chakwera that if his administration does not reboot the ailing economic, it is going to organise countrywide protests on December 7.
In its statement issued on Tuesday, November 8, HRDC had issued seven demands that in rebooting the system:
1. The President should fire the underperforming Ministers and officers and hire people that will help him deliver his agenda;
2. The government must fix the fuel problem within 21 days, saying no more fuel queues beyond November 29;
3. Chakwera should, within 21 days, spell out concrete measures for addressing the AIP chaos with concrete timelines of when and how this will be achieved;
4. Government should fire National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA) acting chief executive officer Hellen Buluma because she has been presiding over the fuel crisis;
5. The President should give a directive stopping senior government officials, including Cabinet Ministers and himself, from all non-essential travelling both within the country and internationally; and
6. Chakwera must direct law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute all suspected culprits involved in this year’s AIP mess.
“If the government fails to fullfill these demands by the 29th of November 2022, there will be no concessions,” says the statement from HRDC national coordinator, Gift Trapence and his management team.
“Malawians will not allow themselves to continue suffering anymore. Enough is enough.”
HRDC, which played a pivotal role in organizing effective demonstrations against the previous administration of Peter Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) — which Chakwera sanctioned and also actively participated — says over time, they have “observed the deterioration of livelihoods for Malawians most of whom are poor”.
“This is in contrast to a promise of a better Malawi that was sold to the electorate in the Fresh Presidential Elections of 2020, which put President Lazarus Chakwera and his Tonse Alliance administration in power.
“Although Malawians noticed and acknowledged the shortfalls of the Tonse Alliance Government over the last two years, they believed that the government needed time to work on what needed to be achieved to move this country forward.
“Similarly, HRDC gave the government time to strategize and execute their plans as spelled out in their manifestos. However, over the past two years, the Tonse Alliance administration has taken Malawians’ goodwill for granted.”
The civil society organization further says “apart from paying lip service, the Chakwera-led administration has done very little to improve the livelihoods of poor Malawians”, saying “on the contrary, the lives of Malawians are now worse off than there were two years ago, according to recent research”.
“At the moment, Malawi is burning. The country is in a crisis.”
Chakwera is reminded that on October 10, 2021, following a 22.8% increase in the price of fuel in the country, HRDC released a statement titled ‘Tonse Alliance Government Making Lives of Malawians Miserable’ but at that point, they thought things could not get any worse.
“Fast forward to today, the situation has deteriorated. What is most worrying in all this is that the President has not shown any signs of empathy to the suffering citizens.
“He and his ministers and other senior public officials continue to live as if everything is normal. They have detached themselves from reality and have left Malawians to suffer on their own.
Malawians are not asking for extraordinary things—just the basic necessities to get through their lives.
“Malawians are asking for the opportunities to live normal lives other than the mental torture that there are being subjected to. Malawians can’t breath and they are pleading for a break from this cycle.”
The statement further said for about two months now, the country has been experiencing incessant fuel shortages, food prices have shot above the roof and there is hardly any forex on the market to enable any sensible business to operate.
“People can no longer travel due to the unavailability of fuel. If they do, then they have to pay excessively higher fares.
“In public hospitals, ambulances have no fuel to ferry the sick to health facilities which has led to preventable deaths. And due to frequent blackouts, hospitals cannot conduct surgical procedures as there is no fuel to run the generators.
“People are dying right in the hospitals as a direct result of the government’s failure to address the fuel and electricity problems.
“We are yet to see a real commitment by this government to solve the perennial electricity challenges.”
Trapence and his team maintain that Chakwera’s administration “promised to install more than 1,000 megawatts of electricity but there is no single step in that direction thus far”.
“Businesses are choking to death. Whenever fuel is available, the huge cost has pushed the prices of all-important commodities to unprecedented levels.
“Unfortunately, the same Malawians that sacrificed their time and resources to usher in the current administration are now paying a heavy price. Consumers now have to dig deeper into their pockets to put food on their tables and travel to business, school or work.
“All in all, we hope that the Chakwera government will live up to its promise to eradicate the electricity problems by the end of December.
“Sadly, President Chakwera, amidst this man-made crisis, has continued with his globe-trotting sojourns, in the process externalising the vital forex that could have been used to procure fuel.
“When he is at home, President Chakwera has been on the road every week for events that he can delegate to ministers and other government officials.
“All the while Malawians continue to spend sleepless nights on fuel queues,” says the statement.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :