Some active Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), activists and human rights defenders in Malawi have asked President Peter Mutharika to honourably consider resigning if he keeps on failing Malawians, accusing his administration of lacking vision and leadership in steering the nation from the brink of collapse.
The CSOs’ who addressed a news conference in Lilongwe argue that the sad state of the country’s democratic and economic governance, water as well as electricity crisis, attest to the Mutharika failure.
“Of late, we have witnessed with alarm large-scale challenges such as water and electricity crisis, ills in the education and health sectors and a cloud of uncertainty over the Farm Input Subsidy Program [Fisp] in the agriculture sector.
“We have also seen a country fast receding into an old-age political and economic malaise: A country where pursuit of corrupt cases alias Cashgate is highly skewed towards offering immunity to those in power while coming the hardest on the weak,” CHRR’s director Timothy Mtambo read the statement signed by the CSO’s and activists.
The CSOs include Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Human Rights Defenders Forum, Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), Civil and Political Space Platform as well as human rights activists Martha Kwataine and Billy Mayaya.
Others are Charles Kajoloweka of Youth and Governance Activist, Robert Mkwezalamba of Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC), Moses Mkandawire of Civic and Political Space, Kiko Mapunda of Centre for Governance and Public Participation, Benedicto Kondowe of Human Rights Defenders Forum, Bright Kampaundi of Forum for National Development, Desmond Mhango of CEYCA, and Macdonald Sembereka of MANERELA .
The CSOs also argue that Mutharika is compromising interests of the general public “to serve vain, selfish and partisan interests” and observed signs of leadership crisis and arrogance in President Mutharika.
“Many Malawians are enduring the effects of poor governance under the current administration, yet the President has chosen to plunder hard earned taxpayers’ money with an air of unbridled entitlement. This is an insult of the highest order, and not befitting the high office of the land,” the CSOs charge.
“We, however, feel the President is honourable enough to consider stepping down if he keeps failing Malawians. And I repeat: the President is honourable enough to consider stepping down if he keeps failing Malawians,” said a visibly fearless Trapence
During a news conference on his trip to the United Nations General Assembly (Unga) last week, Mutharika said he was already a millionaire when he returned to Malawi from the United States of America (USA), further declaring that he can do without taxpayers’ money.
“You can check my [bank] account in New York,” stressed Mutharika, who had lived and worked in the USA for roughly 40 years before returning to his homeland in 2007.
The CSOs noted that the remarks by ‘super rich’ Mutharika are demeaning.
“We believe that Malawians do not need to be told whether the President was a millionaire before joining the race for presidency for they exactly know the truth, and have vivid answers in their hearts. This mockery must stop!”
“His spirited and emotional defence and explanation of what transpired is unsatisfactory and a mockery to the citizenry. As an elected leader, the President has continued to show lack of leadership in steering the nation from the brink of collapse. He is failing to provide a vision of what Malawi can become and a mission of which direction the country has to go in order to reverse it from the current state.
“ Many Malawians are enduring the effects of poor governance under the current administration, yet the President has chosen to plunder hard earned taxpayers’ money with an air of unbridled entitlement” reads part of CSO’s statement.
HRCC chairperson Robert Mkwezalamba said it was disturbing to note that some government officials lied that some activists were sponsored by some international organisations to be part of the President’s bloated entourage when in actual sense such activists were within the country, and didn’t travel as alleged.
Mkwezalamba described this as unfortunate and blamed the President’s advisors for misleading him.
On Public Service Reforms, the CSOs argue gains being made are only on paper and nothing substantive is being achieved on the ground, further branding the programme “a window-dressing exercise aimed at gaining cheap political mileage”.
“The mere fact that the establishment and functions of the Public Reform Programme Commission by-passed parliamentary approval calls the legality and legitimacy of the body itself into serious question,” they claim.
On his part, vocal youth and governance activist Charles Kajoloweka noted that Malawi was being led by a frustrated and angry President.
“It is dangerous to be led by a frustrated and angry President. Should he really be allowed to continue failing Malawians at such a critical time like this when we all need transformative leadership to bail us out of this catastrophe? It’s unfortunate that we have a leader who is clueless.” said the outspoken Kajoloweka.
Mtambo of CHRR observed a “myriad of persistent leadership challenges stagnating the progress of this country and further, eroding the public trust in the current administration”.
He cited high cost of living and ailing economy, dwindling service delivery peppered with empty talk on Public Service reform as some of the indicators not reflecting well on Mutharika and therefore called on Mutharika to take charge or resign if he feels he is not up to the task.
Among other recommendations, the CSOs have urged Mutharika to reduce local as well as international travels and revise the Decent and Affordable Housing Subsidy Programme budget and adjust downward the newly introduced fees in schools.
They have also urged Mutharika to respect and protect media freedom, by among others, signing the much-awaited Table Mountain Declaration, and fully supporting the enactment of the Access to Information Bill (ATI).
“To take quick measures to employ all health workers and teacher graduates to ease service delivery in the health and education sectors; address the drug shortage; depoliticize the public sector reforms by supporting it with necessary legal regime in order to ensure continuity; ensure that Public service reforms are periodically scrutinized by Parliament to improve the program delivery and ensure that reforms reflect the views and wishes of Malawians,”appeals the CSO’s.
Special advisor to the President on non-governmental organisations and civil society, Mavuto Bamusi is on record telling the press that the CSOs were being childish by attacking Mutharika’s attitude.
“CSOs are being immature. They are taking a childish approach. CSOs in Malawi need to mature. Malawians were being fed with lies and the President could not tolerate that. The CSOs have to be responsible,” said Bamusi.
Mutharika, 75, has already ruled out a possibility of resigning, saying he will stay put until his end of term in 2019 and has already expressed interest to seek re-election for a second and final constitutional term of office.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :