Judge of the High Court of Malawi, Dr Redson Kapindu, has called upon Malawi government to start taking decisive steps in addressing chronic food deficits while, at the same time, moving towards the attainment of the status of a hunger-free nation.
Kapindu made the call on Monday evening in Lilongwe when he made a presentation at an orientation meeting for the members of Parliament (MPs) on the Food and Nutrition Bill.
The Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) organized the meeting in collaboration with Civil Society Organizations Nutrition Alliance (CSONA) and their partners, which include German-based organization, Welthungerhilfe (WHH), Save the Children International and European Union (EU).
The meeting, which drew participants from the Parliamentary Committee on HIV/AIDS and Nutrition, the media and other like-minded organizations, was organized to lobby MPs to consider debating and passing the Food and Nutrition Bill.
Kapindu gave a summary of the key issues that the Bill seeks to achieve, which, among others, are to safeguard, promote and facilitate the progressive realization of the right to food and good nutrition as provided for in the Constitution of Malawi as well as the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which the Malawi Government ratified in 1993.
“The government has the obligation to ensure that every Malawian is food secure and that the nation is hunger-free. Of course, it should be noted that we may not have adequate resources to achieve that goal, but it is important that is should start taking steps towards addressing hunger,” he emphasized.
Kapindu cited a number of constitutional provisions that oblige the government to create an enabling environment for the households to produce enough food for themselves, stating that the law does not compel the government to feed citizens.
“It should be clarified that the right to food is not the same as the right to be fed. The right to food entails that one is able to feed him/herself adequately and the government has to provide an enabling environment for the citizens to produce adequate food and nutrition for their households. The government does not have the obligation to feed its citizens,” he stressed.
Kapindu was essentially allying fears that the enactment of the Right to Food Bill into law would pile more pressure on the government to provide food handouts.
CISANET national coordinator Pamela Kuwali said the civil society is pleased to note that the government has made tremendous progress on processing the Bill in the past couple of years up to the extent that it was presented to Cabinet.
She added that they were relieved to notice that the State President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera pledged to have the Bill tabled in Parliament soon.
“We remain hopeful that this soon is soon indeed because the Bill is long overdue. CISANET and its partners took heed of the call that the members of the Committee made during the budget dissemination meeting we held in September, 2020. We are aware that some of the Honorable members are new to this committee and therefore may not have adequate understanding of what the Food and Nutrition Bill entails,” said Kuwali.
She disclosed that it is against this background that, through the financial support provided by the EU through AFIKEPO project and the BMZ supported Rural Governance for the Right to Food project, CISANET has worked hand in hand with CSONA, Save the Children, WHH and the Parliament Secretariat to organize this orientation meeting.
“It is our hope and humble prayer that this meeting will assist the Honorable members to have adequate information on the Bill and will be able to contribute from an informed point of view when the Bill is tabled in Parliament,” said Kuwali.
In his remarks, CSONA Advocacy Manager, Joseph Gausi, commended MPs that made to the orientation and asked them to use their authority to pass the bill into law.
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