Governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali has assessed the performance of Malawi on several governance and accountability indicators, saying “while there have been some positives in 2019, the overall picture on governance remains mostly negative.”
In his analysis posted on Nyasa Times, Munthali said the country registered stagnation in terms of adhering to good governance principles, a situation which he observed worsened by the failure of the government and some state agents such as Police to learn from the past by continue repeating the same mistakes committed in the past.
“Executive arrogance and impunity have characterised the majority of the year, and if it were not for the Courts, a strong Civil Society and some resilient public institutions such as Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) and Office of the Ombudsman, the Constitution of Malawi and our hard-earned democracy would have been under serious threat,” asserted Munthali.
He also noted that right to peaceful demonstration and freedom of assembly triumphed in the context of “executive” attempts to stand in it’s way.
“The largest part of the year 2019 was characterised by post-election Anti-Jane Ansah demonstrations organised by Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC),” he stated.
Notwithstanding the violence that characterised the demonstrations, Munthali said, these were undoubtedly the largest patronised and most sustained demonstrations in the history of Malawi as it provided the platform for the majority of voters who felt duped by the election results to render their frustrations against the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Chairperson and Commissioners.
“Regrettably, the executive arm of the government including the Minister, the Police, the Councils CEOs and the Attorney General (AG) attempted to block the citizen’s exercise of this right using the Courts, unnecessarily firing teargas, denying permission for citizens to hold demonstrations or in some cases withdrawing their services to provide security during the demonstrations.
“However, the land mark Supreme Court of Appeal ruling after being petitioned by the Attorney General on the matter will remain a historic step in as far as protecting the Constitutionally guaranteed right to demonstration and freedom of Assembly.
“ In this regard, 2019 will be remembered as a year when the Supreme Court of Appeal came to the rescue of right to peaceful and unarmed demonstrations which was under serious threat by the State. At the end of the day, right to peaceful and unarmed demonstrations triumphed,” he said.
He also said 2019 will be remembered as a year when government of Malawi continued to dilly-dally on the operationalisation of Access to Information Law.
On the rape incidents allegedly committed by police officers around Msundwe area in Lilongwe, Munthali said the saga is one of the “gravest tragedy” and wonders why the Police till to-date have neither released their investigations report nor arrested the culprits within their ranks.
“ There is no way the police can take this long to conclude the investigations and arrest the perpetrators especially when one considers the fact that this is a clear and straightforward issue in as far as bringing to book the perpetrators mindful of the fact that these perpetrators ware within the Police ranks.
“Worse still, has been lack of sensitivity and concern by the government (including the Police) on the matter who have either decided to hide under the pending Police investigations into the matter or challenge the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) report implicating police officers on the same based on trivia reasoning. Government has certainly abandoned it’s duty to protect, respect and fulfil human rights,” he stated.
Munthali also faulted the selective justice applied by the Ministry of Gender and the Police in handling gender based violence and that President Peter Mutharika’s failure to unify the country through taking advantage of the opening of “critical junctures” will remain missed opportunities in 2019.
On a positive note, Munthali observed that the economy of Malawi continued to remain stable.
“However, despite such stability the inequality gaps between the rich and the poor continued to widen, and that the economic stability did not hence translate into improved livelihoods amongst Malawians,” he stated.
Nevertheless, Munthali said the performance of such public institutions like Ombudsman provided “some array of hope” that the quest for good governance is possible.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :