Malawi Civil Society Organisations on Tuesday petitioned President Peter Mutharika after street protests in the capital Lilongwe, urging the Head of State to address numerous challenges which the country is facing.
The demonstrations were planned to be national but were disrupted elsewhere with heavy rains. In Blantyre, CSOs delegated the officials to present the petition as well as in the eastern city of Zomba. A petition was also presented in the northern border district of Karonga.
In Lilongwe CSO leaders took to the streets and peacefully presented the petition to Lilongwe City Council chief executive officer Richard Hara who they expect in turn to deliver to President Mutharika.
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) executive Director Timothy Mtambo, delivering the petition, urged Mutharika to address the challenges outlined in the petition within 100 days or else the CSOs will regroup and go in the streets again.
The groups said government should desist from “politically abusing “the public institutions, resources and funds for purposes which are contrary to their mandates and not in the best interest of Malawians. They have called for all boards and chief executives of statutory bodies should undergo a due interview process by the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament.
They have also called on President Mutharika to dissolve the board of National AIDS Commission (NAC) and dismiss NAC executive director and institute a forensic audit of NAC disbursement of AIDS funds since the time NAC was granted the principle recipient of HIV/AIDS related funds by Global fund.
“Government should put in place clear steps to ensure that National Aids Commission is no longer susceptible to political abuse and interference. Government should further condemn NACGATE and provide assurance to the nation that this shall never happen again in future, and should initiate the review of NAC policy and procedures on fund disbursement,” reads the petition.
The CSOs have demanded First Lady’s Beautify Malawi (BEAM) and Mulhakho Wa Alhomwe to refund K5million and K9.4 million respectively to NAC to be used for its intended HIV/AIDS response functions.
The activist also accused President Mutharika of practising naked nepotism.
“The President should desist from appointing people based on tribalism, ethnicity, regionalism and partisan politics, and endeavour to put Malawi first. To this end, the President should explain steps being taken by government to ensure that civil and public servants in all government and public institutions are appointed on merit,” said the CSOs.
Mutharika has been asked to provide executive leadership by amongst other things delivering monthly public address on the steps being taken to address the prevailing economic hardships and unprecedented suffering of Malawians until things stabilizes.
The CSOs also want government should update the nation on the status quo on the implementation of the economic recovery plan (ERP)
The groups urged government to address the concerns raised or “demonstrate significant steps to addressing within 100 days from the date of delivery of this petition today on 13th January, 2015. “
According to the petition, government should also facilitate the institution of a dialogue platform with civil society organisations and other key stakeholders over the issues raised within a period of two weeks.
“We demand that the concerns and demands which are linked to NAC should be addressed within three weeks from the date of delivery of this petition –today on 13th January 2015. Failure to comply with this demand, we will regroup and decide the next course of action in order to ensure that justice and sanity prevails on the matter,” the CSOs said.
While commending Malawi government for living up to its promise of increasing salaries of civil servants, the CSOs pointed out that Malawians are concerned that the recent increment defeated the principle of equity where the low ranked civil servants given the raw deal where the higher increment percentages were given to the high ranking civil servants at the expense of low ranking civil servants.
“The recent increments have presented a scenario where the gap between the senior and junior officers has amazingly widened further thereby putting to question government’s commitment to bridging the gap between the same.”
They raised the issue of controversial education quota system, accusing Mutharika of playing “hide and seek game “in addressing the issue as a way of selecting students into the public universities.
“The silence exemplified by the President raises doubts about his commitment to reforms and his own position on the subject matter as publicly espoused in his inaugural speech. It is unhealthy for a leadership to deliberately portray double standard on a critical issue like this one, and that the more clarity is given, the more likelihood the matter is put to rest,” reads the petition.
Some of the known people on the frontline during the demonstrations included executive director of Centre for the Development of People Gift Trapence, National Organisation of Nurses and Midwifery Dorothy Ngoma, Manerela executive director Rev Macdonald Sembereka, Malawi Congress Party spokesperson Jessie Kabwila.
Meanwhile, Minister of Information Kondwani Nankhumwa said government will read thoughouly the petition when it reaches them and will respond accordingly.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :