Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) on Friday released its preliminary report on how it had assessed the July 4 nationwide demonstrations goaled at ousting Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson, Jane Ansah, for shoddy management of the May 21
tripartite elections, with calls that those protesting must be cautious of their responsibilities—always—when protesting.
Protesters on Friday wrapped up two days of demonstrations aimed at forcing Ansah to resign.
The demonstrations went haywire as organizers, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), failed to control the crowds who subsequently went on rampage torching and destroying both government and private property.
Among the most hit districts were Zomba, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Karonga where government offices were torched down leading to the loss of billions of kwacha.
In Karonga, the both town and district council offices were torched raising fears on whether or not government business would resume soon.
Speaking on the sidelines of the preliminary report released to the public, MHRC executive secretary, David Nungu, said the Commission was equally concerned with the manner in which the demonstrations went by.
“We noted a number of things including the massive looting and torching of property, failure of police’s management to protect their officers who were tasked to protect protesters, among others,” said Nungu.
According to Nungu, MHRC was still working on the most of the issues highlighted and would be making public a comprehensive report on the same once they were done.
But Nungu hinted that one of the key concerns noticed was that protestors were not considerate of their fellows’ rights.
“In every protest, a protestor needs to be fully aware that they must respect other people’s rights. That is every critical in as far as human rights are concerned,” said Nungu.
The protests ended with a vigil outside the Parliament Building in the capital Lilongwe with HRDC warning that should Ansah not resign, they would return to the streets.
Government has since blamed the damage caused during the protests on the organizers.
“It is really unfortunate that [protesters] are disturbing the business of people, lives of people,” government spokesman Mark Botoman said. “And this cannot go unchecked. Obviously, anyone who is found torching offices, breaking shops and the like, they will be apprehended.”
Timothy Mtambo, chairman of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition, which organized the protests, said those who perpetrated violence were not the demonstrators, but were hooligans who took advantage of the peaceful protests.
“We condemn that in the strongest terms possible, and we disown those people because the demonstrations that we have are peaceful demonstrations,” he said. “We called for peaceful demonstrations.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :