The much anticipated “day of rage” demonstration staged in the capital Lilongwe to demand an end to impunity failed to pull a crowd as many Malawians feared to join the protest with vivid memories of the fierce crackdown in the normally peaceful nation by law enforcers when 18 people were killed in an anti government protests July 20, 2011.
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), Centre for Development of People (CEDEP), Youth and Society (YAS) and Church and Society (Livingstonia Synod) decided to stage the demonstration to demand transparency and accountability as well us fighting corruption without discrimination and end the practice of the rich to hold stockpiles of undeclared cash.
Despite the hyped publicity and warm reception by Malawians on social media, only few people turned up to join the civil society organizations a clear sign of how Malawians regard demonstrations.
The CSOs pledged not to hold general strike because it would cause economic disruption but the turn up in Lilongwe was not impressive.
There are. plans to hold a seven day mass protest from April 28th that are to be joined by opposition parties calling for “last push” of the government if it will not address their concerns.
Some Malawians commenting on social media regard the demonstration as waste of time and money, claiming now Malawians are no longer willing to fight battle that only profit few individuals.
“Mvuto lake aMalawi anazindikira kuti izi nzopanda ntchito izi zimalemetsa kagulu kochepa zedi (The problem is Malawians no longer want to be taken for granted knowing such demonstrations benefit only few individuals),” commented Kelvin Sulugwe an entrepreneur.
Sitho Wa Seleman commented: “Mwabaiba uko mukufuna mphawi akuthandizeni zionetsero a police amushute zanu zkuyenda…anthu otembereredwa inu ,,azimu akuoneni powabera (you want a poor man to help demonstrate and get shot by police why you are enjoying the stolen money all by yourselves. May Holy spirit clean your souls”.
Of late demonstrations against government have been receiving low patronage following the shooting of innocent Malawians on July 20th in 2011 under late President Bingu wa Mutharika’s administration.
Journalist George Mkandawire questioned the motive of the demonstration, saying “This is part of what is in constitution which our fathers fought for in 90’s. Praying for peaceful protests and outcome. However my concern is only on the characters of people organizing the protests, very questionable human beings who are somehow bitter that they no longer dine with the royal family.”
But despite low turn up, organisers have delivered to parliament a petition in which they are demanding transparency, accountability and an end to corruption, impunity, nepotism, electricityas well as water shortages.
“We want government to be more vigilant in dealing with corruption, there are some corrupt allegations against some ministers which have not been tackled. So we want corruption to be dealt with at the highest level,” said one of the organisers Billy Mayaya.
The CSOs say they are concerned with what they call “lack of willingness” on the part of government to implement recommendations by inquiries into the dubious purchase of maize from Zambia among others.
A joint parliamentary committee which investigated the maize saga recommended, among others, that the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) Board should start disciplinary proceedings against senior managers who were involved in the maize procurement deal from Zambia.
It also recommended a review of the Public Procurement Act to provide the pre-procurement approval by the Secretary to the Treasury and the Attorney General for procurements by parastatals and state owned companies beyond certain thresholds.
Elections are not due again in Malawi until 2019.
Malawi, which gained independence from Britain in 1964, is among the world’s least developed nations and UNAIDS estimates there are 920,000 people living with HIV/AIDS here.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :