The organizers of the planned January 17 2013 anti-government demonstrations have released a six-point petition on why they are calling for protests, giving government 14 days to address the raised concerns or face continuous demonstrations.
Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) joined by Council for Non-governmental Organizations of Malawi (Congoma) and some unnamed community based organizations are planning to hold national-wide demonstrations in protest against the rising cost of living, ,failure to address current economic challenges, which include high inflation rate and uncontrolled fuel pricing.
The organizing committee of the demonstrations chaired by Mc Xitings Mdoka has produced a six-point petition backing their move to go on the streets, citing the issue of floating of Kwacha, the need to sell the controversial presidential jet and Mercedes Benz cars used by ministers as well as reduction of presidential convoy, presidential and cabinet travel, corruption, declaration of asserts and bloated cabinet and executive arrogances.
Addressing a news conference on Thursday, the committee brushed off any suggestions that they might be forced to call off the demonstrations if President Joyce Banda proposes a dialogue.
“We will not stop the demonstrations even if government decides to call for a dialogue meeting,” said the committee member, Harry Dafter Mikuwa.
“And I don’t know how they will propose for a dialogue when they claim they are instituting these policies based on orders from donors. We are prepared for a dialogue but I don’t think it will happen because we have passed way beyond that stage now.”
Mikuwa added: “If the government does not address the raised points in our petition, then it should expect never ending demonstrations. We will not retire until we see a change”.
The committee’s spokesperson, Kingsely Mabalani said they have agreed to give government 14 days to effect the six-point petition, arguing the issues raised are matters of decision making and not mechanical.
“The issues raised are easy to implement because they just need one’s decision to rescind the policies in questions. The issue of stopping the floatation of Kwacha, sell of presidential jet and the Mercedes Benz cars as well as declaration of asserts can be done by a click of a finger.
“There is a need for the President and her vice to declare their assets and that is one way of checking corruption. This administration is full of corruption, talk of the procurement of fertilizer, and drugs, they are not coming out in open how the transactions were done on the procurement of these two issues. And they claim to have put austerity measures while at same time they are bloating the cabinet. Does that make any sense? This why we are saying the executive is arrogant,” Mabalani said.
He further claimed that President Band and vice were not interested to listen to the pains of Malawians as they are already cautioned on the effects of devaluation through the continuous withdraw of allowances.
“They say they have stopped the foreign travels as one of the austerity measure, but she is travelling every locally. And as matter of concern, she is accompanied by almost the whole cabinet in every where she goes. These people withdraw allowances, the money that can be used of other purposes like buying drugs in hospitals. Their austerity measures are ridicule.”
Mabalani added: “We have already informed the relevant authorities on the demonstrations and we are planning to meet the South Region Police officials on Friday before doing the same in Lilongwe and Mzuzu just to assure them that we are planning to have peaceful demonstrations. And nobody is funding the demonstration. We are using our meager resources. And everyone supporting it is a volunteer”.
The committee described the Kwacha flotation as a wrong policy sequencing which was done without proper consideration of the measures to caution the resulting effects.
“The need to devalue the local currency was a policy that all sectors of the economy did not object. The challenge that our authorities have is their failure to sequence the devaluation of the Malawi Kwacha and the Flotation of the local currency, we strongly believe that flotation should have been done only after certain conditions. Malawi should have started by addressing the problem of a perpetual precarious foreign reserve position before adopting a flexible regime.”
“Corruption is rampant and mostly by the executive and other arms of government and we find corruption to be one of the key drivers of our poverty as costs to get services from the State continue to be high and inflated such as the fertilizer subsidy and drugs for our hospitals whose procurement and distribution details are hidden from the public,” reads part of the petition.
Declaration of assets
The committee claims that act of ignoring the demand for the president and her vice to declare their assets, is fueling corruption and kills the whole essence of democracy.
“We are demanding the President and her vice to declare their assets with immediate effect so as to bring confidence in the leadership. It is a constitution requirement and for purposes of accountability and transparency and dignity of their offices. This we demand now as a matter of urgency”.
The petition further says: “At a time when we are all making to cut down on costs on the specially in the manner government uses its resources and demanding the same from consumers, we are shocked to see that the recent cabinet increased in number at a time when we are expected the same numbers cabinet ministers to be reduced.
“We are also shocked with the continued executive arrogance that seem not to take advice and criticism and this has been displayed by many comments that have been uttered by the executive especially the President at a number of institutions such as Pac, which have tried to engage the executive with dialogue the result has been a ridicule on political rallies,” reads the petition.
On Thursday, Chancellor College-based political science associate professor Mustapha Hussein appealed to Cama boss John Kapito to engage government in dialogue instead of staging the demonstrations.
But Kapito said government has shown arrogance by failing to respond positively to issues.
“There are many strategies to engage government and demonstrations are just one way of doing it,” said Kapito.
Hussein argues that although it is a constitutional right to hold demonstrations, street protests “should be a last resort if government is showing signs of arrogance or failing to address issues.”
Government spokesman Moses Kunkuyu said the Joyce Banda administration will not counter the demonstrations. He said government respects the right to expressions by citizens, but argued that the State needs to know the details so that it can provide security.
Apart from Congoma, Public Affairs Committee (Pac) has supported the move by Cama to take it to the streets.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :