Malawi Govt warns Kapito against mass protests: ‘Unpatriotic and irresponsible’

The Joyce Banda administration has warned activists against any plans  for anti-government protests on economic policies that are biting consumers hard, saying calls for demonstrations  are “irresponsible and unpatriotic.”

Consumers’ Association of Malawi (Cama) say they will  mobilise people to stage a mass consumer protest and Council for Non-Governmental Organisations in Malawi (Congoma) has backed the calls.

Cama executive director John Kapito announced that the mass strike is likely to take place in January 2013.

But government spokesperson and Minister of Information and Civic Education Moses Kunkuyu said on Wednesday in a statement emailed to Nyasa Times that the Banda administration will “forever respect freedom of expression in all its forms”  but said it is “ important to match rights and freedoms with a great sense of responsibility.”

Kapito: Accused of irresponsible posturing

Kunkuyu said it would be uncalled for to stage demonstrations when things have so far improved compared to eight months ago under the late Bingu wa Mutharika.

“Government would like to ask Malawians to fully reflect on the journey that the Nation has gone through between May 2009 to date and do a comparative analysis of the period between 2009 elections to April 5, 2012 and the period from April 7, 2012 to date,” said Kunkuyu.

“Any Malawian with some sense of responsibility and honesty will realize that things have taken a turn for the better since the current administration took over the affairs of our country.”

Kunkuyu said an “honest analysis”  would tells that while challenges remain “there are more hope, promise and opportunity.”

“Government would like to appeal to Malawians that we have to engage in critical analysis of issues before issuing careless statements and appealing to the citizenry to demonstrate.”

Kunkuyu said: “Government is the first to admit that there are challenges and Government is the first to admit that things may get worse before they get better but Government is taking all the necessary and sometimes tough decisions, to correct the anomalies in our economy so that the future is much more solidly grounded in sound economic policies.”

He said development partners are coming to Malawi’s rescue and that the donor inflows are an important factor to stabilizing the economy.

“The support from our development partners, combined with Government efforts, should produce positive results and we should be able to turn a corner soon when we can look back to these difficult days with pride and pat ourselves on the back that we stood and stayed the course,” Kunkuyu said.

Government appealed to Malawians “to exercise their freedoms and rights with responsibility and exercise restraint.”

Kunkuyu said the calls by Kapito to demonstrate “squarely fall in the category of irresponsible posturing that will not take Malawi anywhere, at a time when Malawians need to hold hands in moving the economy forward.”

The government spokesman said to “denigrate the President for turning to the country’s cooperating partners to help in turning around the economy is utmost irresponsible and unpatriotic.”

“The paradox is that CAMA itself hugely relies on donor support to undertake its programmes. Its programmes, such as the Consumer Sensitisation on Energy Saver Bulbs, are financed by the Department for International Development. In fact, this is a project that was only restored to CAMA when the current President took the reigns of power after the Government of Bingu wa Mutharika vehemently rejected CAMA’s involvement in public sensitization processes on energy saver bulbs,” said the statement.

Government said Malawi will wean itself of donor aid but that it is “a process that must be done gradually because the country’s economy is still fragile.”

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