Malawi civil society organisations who are planning peaceful protests on January 13 against “bad leadership” have condemned what they call government-orchestrated propaganda to demonise demonstrations, saying that is contrary to the freedom of expression.
The CSOs are organising the demonstration over the prevailing political, economic, administrative and governance stalemate currently facing the country to be held in all the major cities and selected districts.
Spokesman of the demonstrations, Timothy Mtambo, said it is “retrogressive” for government to attempt stifling rights such as that of expression and assembly.
Mtambo, a fearless rights activist who is executive director of Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) caution the DPP government from “any effort that is aimed at curtailing these fundamental rights by way of issuance of threats and mobilization of anti-demonstrations cadres.”
He stated: “It is important to state that the right to freedom of expression through demonstration, written or spoken statements has nothing to do with whether demonstrations are justifiable or not in the eyes of a third party.”
Mtambo called on government to “address the challenges” and provide the needed leadership.
The CSOs maintained that the planned demonstrations aimed at providing the citizens the platform to air out their grievances are still on.
One of the issues the CSOs are calling for protests is the issue of the National Aids Commission’s (NAC) financial grant to Beatify Malawi Trust (BEAM) and Mulhakho wa Alhomwe (MWA).
But some activist under the banner Civil Society Youth Consortium (CSYC), believed to be bankrolled by government, have condemned the CSOs for politicizing and demonizing the ‘noble work’ the two institutions are doing in the country.
NAC is said to have given BEAM and MWA K5 million and K9.4 million, but this did not go down well with some CSOs under the Grand Coalition, arguing that the two institutions do not have HIV/AIDS intervention programmes to warrant such financial support.
It is against this background that the groups have organized the demonstrations on January 13 2015 as a way of forcing BEAM, MWA to return the money they received from the Commission.
But CSYC spokesman Luther Mambala claims that the demonstrations are “politically motivated” and aimed at advancing the interests of ‘few selfish individuals’.
“We are pretty aware that a right to demonstrations is provided for in the Constitution, but we are against the idea of rushing to the streets without engaging the parties involved in the matter.
“Why are they refusing to give dialogue a chance? They (demonstrations) are not in good faith; demonstrations should have been the last resort,” said Mambala.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :