The Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) has invited organisers of the scheduled Friday September 21 anti-government nationwide protests to a dialogue meeting on outstanding issues in Lilongwe on Tuesday in a bid to stop the demos but the activists have said the streets protests will still go on.
In a letter signed on behald of Chief Secretary to the Government Lloyd Muhara by Cliff Chiunda, Principal Secretray (Administration) in the OPC, government has invited the orgnaisers of the protests for a meeting Tuesday morning at Capital Hill in Lilongwe.
The letter says the meeting seeks to “offer additional accountability and greater clarification on the government response of July 2018.”
The OPC letter has been addressed to Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) Chairperson Timothy Mtambo.
“This dialogue meeting will also provide an opportunity for continuous engagement on any other matters of national interest, including those that may be related to the planned 21st September 2018 demonstrations,” reads in part the OPC letter.
Meanwhile, HRDC have set the conditions to the meeting if they are to attend.
Mtambo said they demand President Peter Mutharika to attend the meeting in person or line ministers .
“Issues of finance should be dealt with by the minister responsible, issues of energy and internal security by the respective line ministers and so on,” said Mtambo.
Mtambo said the activist will not hold meeting with “junipor officers.”
The HRDC has also set another condition that the meeting should not be held in camera, saying the media should cover it.
“If these things are not met, then we will not be party to the said dialogue meeting,” Mtambo said definalty.
Meanwhile, Civil society organisations (CSOs) have said they will go ahead with their plans to hold nationwide protests on September 21 which has so far been endorsed by Public Affairs Committee (PAC), main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Vice-President Saulos Chilima has also pledged United Transformation Movement’s (UTM) support to the demonstrations.
Mtambo said time to worship impunity is over and it is high time Malawian reclaimed their destiny, saying the the nature of the DPP administration is that it is manipulative.
“Dialogue works where it is due, it must be genuine and must be founded on principles of mutual respect and trust. The problem with DPP administration is that they believe in manipulative dialogue. When you engage them, it is either they want to silence you or they want to pretend doing something with an objective of making the issue die a natural death,” explained Mtambo.
He said the CSOs have tried many times to dialogue the the government but failed.
“For example, after 2011 demos there was dialogue that was constituted to engage Government but it yielded nothing. The leadership of the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) has tried to dialogue with the DPP-led government but nothing has been achieved so far. We tried to dialogue on NACgate nothing happened. We tried on the blue Nightgate and on the K4 billion. How can you dialogue with a leadership which majors in propaganda? It is so unfair to imply that CSOs do not want to engage in dialogue,” he said.
Mtambo stressed that DPP administration is beyond dialogue engagements.
“ It is also important to mention that dialogue has to be in keeping with the nature of issues and concerns at hand. For instance, how can you dialogue on the issue of bringing to book the murderers of Issa Njauju, Robert Chasowa, killings of people with albinism on electricity black outs, corruption? That said we should not demonise demonstrations. These are constitutionally backed up means of engagement. When we demonstrate we are giving citizens a platform to engage and dialogue with their government,” he said.
He said the CSOs major reason for demonstration dates back to the April 27 10-points petition which has been “arrogantly ignored” by the DPP administration.
“The petition was clear that after 90 days we shall make an assessment to evaluate government’s implementation of the citizens’ petition and that if we are not satisfied, we shall come back to the streets and demand accountability.
“As CSOs, we did the assessment and from the assessment it is clear that government has not just ignored the April 27 citizens’ petition but it has also engaged a bigger gear on accelerating impunity in this country,” said Mtambo.
HRDC vice-chairperson Gift Trapence said among the issues to be raised in the upcoming demonstration is government’s failure to address worsening corruption in the country.
Other issues include theft of fuel K1.9 billion at Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom), calls for the resignation of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general Reyneck Matemba, immediate suspension of the contract for the supply of gensets and an immediate stop of nepotism in government appointments.
He said through the demonstrations, CSOs and participants seek to peacefully express their dissatisfaction and denounce violation of human rights that are enriched in the bill of rights.
The demonstrations -whose theme is ‘Restoring our Destiny’ -were postponed from September 7 to pave the way for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)’s Blue Day march. The DPP, ironically, also called off their march at the eleventh hour, saying they wanted to pave the way for the CSOs’ protests.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :