Malawi academic Kabwila says wrong to hail President Banda for peaceful demos

Malawi academic and social activist Jessie Kabwila has said it is wrong for the Joyce Banda administration to claim any credit from the peaceful conduct of the anti-government demonstrations which was held on January 17.

She said it was wrong for Minister of Information Moses Kunkuyu to pat President Banda on the back that the demonstrations were held without bloodshed unlike the July 20, 2011 which claimed lives of 20 people.

Kabwila, University of Malawi lecturer at Chancellor College said Banda ruling People’s Party (PP) did not want Malawians to go on the streets and protest against poor economic governance.

“What is the president being congratulated on? I think if there is anyone to be congratulated, it should be the Malawians who walked, the demonstrators themselves, then  [John] Kapito for standing up to organize public dialogue like this,” argued Kabwila.

Kabwila: Joyce Banda must do something to fix the country’s ailing economy

The outspoken activist pointed out that the PP government employed all sorts of underhand tactics including mobilising public opinion through use of e propaganda on state broadcaster and private media.

“This government had programmes running on MBC against demos. July 20 was being used to threaten people,” said Kabwila.

“Even civil society people shunned, ostracized and demonized those of us doing the demos. We were left in the cold. Made to look like freaks, destructive people. Imagine if we had failed to work with demonstrators?  On top of all this, live coverage was banned,” she added.

“When vendors, the poor score a success, let us give it to them, not co modifying and cashing inmost it,” said Kabwila who championed the battle for academic freedom during the reign of controversial president late Bingu wa Mutharika.

Kapito, Consumer Association of Malawi (Cama) head who championed the protests, said the peaceful demonstrations defeated what he called the “devil” the state machinery was trying to promote.

“The state has been using the so called [Moses] Kunkuyu –minister of information – to preach about killings when we were talking about peace. They advocated for deadly scenes while we choose to put Jesus Christ in the front,” said Kapito.

In their petition, the protesters are also demanding government to stop floatation of the kwacha, reduction of presidential and Cabinet travel, declaration of assets by the President, salary adjustments for workers in Malawi, Cabinet reduction, among others.

The president has 21 days to respond to the concerns of the protestors or face more action.

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