NGOs deny European countries funding ‘regime change’

By Green Muheya, Nyasa Times

Malawi civil society organisations (CSOs) have denied accusation by President Bingu Wa Mutharika of having received funds from European countries to overthrow his government.

Mutharika in a speech on Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) radio on Sunday, accused ‘some’ European countries of funding protests to enforce “unconstitutional regime change”.

“We know some European governments are behind instability in this country,” said Mutharika. They have given the non- governmental organizations money to organize a second round of demonstrations. Their aim is to topple a legitimate government.”

But Executive Director of Malawi Watch Billy Banda says President Mutharika’s remarks fall short of logic saying the vigil is not organised to overthrow government but to express concerns.

Kondowe: React to Mutharika's rhetoric

“We are not getting any support from European countries. Malawian wants to express their concerns. The government is not listening and it is not resolving the issues we raised. We are not interested to overthrow government,” Banda said.

Also reacting to the speech of the president in which he compared the protests in his country to the riots in Britain and yet again issued arrest threats against unnamed civil rights leaders, activist Bendicto Kondowe described the national address as unfortunate and not befitting his office.

“ As citizens, these remarks clearly reveals of a leader who does not mind about the suffering that Malawians have been subjected to due to his government’s poor policies,” Kondowe told Nyasa Times.

“So far, the President has failed to show any concrete promise of hope; he has shown that solutions to the myriad problems that we are faced with are farfetched and not a possibility in the short term. This is evident in his recent continued political rhetoric that seeks to threaten Malawians that they have no say about what is happening in Malawi,” he said.

Kondowe said the planned August 17 peaceful vigil is the most civilised way of demonstrating that seeks to minimise damages or casualties.

“The intent of such a process is to show that Malawians love peace and simply decide to go for a vigil in order to demand responses or solutions from the President. Therefore, if the citizens cannot be allowed to go for vigils, when and how will they do it in future?

“The problem that we have is: should the right to demonstrate be at the mercy of government or the police? Should the citizens only demonstrate when the police or government wants to? Where is democracy then? As a country, we need to desist this at all cost. We need to demand total respect of the rule of law, and demand that leaders put into office should account for the trust we give them,” Kondowe added.

He also said the President should not be wasting tax payers money for unnecessary whistle stop tours when most teachers are not paid, some for 6 months now; most students at Chancellor College are not learning almost 6 months down the line; hospitals are faced with drug stock out; tax payers are digging deep into their pocket to support the bloated advisories positions and ordinary Malawians cannot even afford the very basic goods.

“The best way forward is for the President to address the people’s concerns. Let him do what people expect and not frustrate them further,” he said.

Civil society groups have called for a second round of demonstrations against government policies and continuing fuel and forex shortages. Malawi devalued the kwacha by 10 percent last week to help alleviate foreign exchange shortages.

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