Kamplepo calls for Malawi's reawakening

President of the opposition Malawi Democratic Party (MDP) Kamlepo Kalua has called on Malawians to wake up from deep sleep and press for democratic reforms.

Kalua speaking on Radio Islam, said the future of dialogue between civil society organisations and Presidential Group on was not healthy after reports indicated that eight issues in the 20-point petition have been left out in the plan of action.

“Removing some of issues in the petition on the dialogue is another factor that shows the weakness of negotiations between the two sides that will not be helpful for the nation,” Kalua said.

Kamlepo: Malawians must press for democratic reforms

Kalua said Malawi was refusing to incorporate the principles of democracy which people in the country chose in 1993.

“Malawians should wake up and send signals that we want genuine, democracy,” MDP President said.

Kalua said the negotiations would not reach the demand of people on what they petitioned to the President on July 20, 2011 during country- wide mass demonstrations.

 The Arab awakening and the Malawi renaissance

When the Tunisian people took the world by surprise, those who felt threatened by that uprising were quick to talk of “exceptions”.

First the world was initially warned that Egypt was not Tunisia, then that Libya was not Tunisia or Egypt, and now that Yemen and Syria are not Tunisia, Egypt, or Libya. And the people of the world have been warned certainly not Southern Africa let alone Malawi.

But in reality the region is fundamentally interconnected. Arabs not only share a geography and language but common crises and aspirations.

Though divided into 22 states, statelets, republics and monarchies, Arabs share the misfortune of living under the harshest forms of government, and are united by their yearning for democratisation.

With the exception of some Gulf sheikhdoms that enjoy large oil resources and a tiny demography, most of their countries are plagued by a bleak record of economic failure and corresponding social crises.

The story of the Arab revolution is not only to be found in prisons, torture chambers and political trials, but in this painful trail of economic and social misery.

Ben Ali, Mubarak and their political backers in Washington, London and Paris are culpable – and so are the World Bank, IMF and WTO. In a way, they are the real makers of the Great Arab Revolution.

The story of Malawi, Zimbabwe and other southern African states is a story of painful trail of economic and social ills.

Nationwide protests

The July 20 uprisings were protests aimed at winning political and economic reforms or concessions from the government of Malawi.

Malawian organisations protested against perceived poor economic management and poor governance by President Bingu wa Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party.

After the first two days of protests, 18 deaths, 98 serious injuries and 275 arrests had been reported.

Further demonstrations were organised on 17 August and 21 September

The first protest was later cancelled due to the intervention of a UN representative in initiating a dialogue; however, the talks broke down with more protests planned for Red Wednesday through a national vigil.

The grievances

The protesters’ grievances were highlighted in a 15-page petition which included a list of 20 demands.

Acute and growing fuel shortages – queuing for fuel was becoming progressively worse over the past two years.

·         Forex shortfalls

·         Electricity shortages

·         Introduction of the “Zero Deficit Budget” – this budget was introduced after England withdrew budgetary support from Malawi.

·         Firing of four university lecturers, including Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula, Blessings Chinsinga, Gaston Kanchedzera and Franz Amin and limiting academic freedom at the University of Malawi. The lectuers have since been reinstated.

·         Attempts against controlling public protests through the requirement of a fee-to-protest of K2 million for mass demonstrations.

·         Relations with the United Kingdom following the expulsion of the High Commissioner to Malawi as a result of the Chochraine-Dyet controversy by The Nation.

·         Press freedom, particularly for the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation.

·         Failure to monitor proceeds of the Australian company Paladin Energy

·         Expansion of the cabinet. The cabinet has since been trimmed.

·         Payments to First Lady Callista Mutharika

·         Nepotism and the succession of wa Mutharika’s brother Peter Mutharika as the head of state.

·         “Injunctions Bill,” which prevents obtaining injunctions against the government despite a court rejection of the bill.

·         Reversal of the unpopular change to the Flag of Malawi

·         “Sheer arrogance” of wa Mutharika

·         Unconstitutional treatment of elected officials, notably attempts to strip Vice-President Joyce Banda of rights and privileges accorded by the Constitution of Malawi.

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