State Vice President Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima has taken the same stand by President Prof Peter Mutharika snubbing the civil society organisations (CSOs) planning the April 27 demonstrations over the K4 billion allocation to legislators and other issues to expect him to personally receive their petition.
In a letter to CSOs, Secretary to the Vice President Clement Chinthu Banda said their request has been referred to Office of the President and Cabinet “to determine and designate a government official to receive the petition on behalf of the Malawi government.”
The letter further advises the CSOs: “You may, therefore, pursue the matter through the Chief Secretary to the Government.”
Human Rights Defenders Forum chairperson Timothy Mtambo, who is leading CSOs organising the protests, said they have received the response and that they will make a decision on Tuesday.
Mtambo said the organisers of the demos wanted their petition to go straight to the presidency through Mutharika or Chilima as they have previously delivered many petitions through other channels, but they have not seen any change; hence, the decision to deliver the petition direct to the Presidency.
But the CSOs maintained ythat the protests are a March of No Confidence and will go ahead on Friday April 27, saying their decision to stage protests follows inconsistencies, illegality and suspicions that characterised the K4 billion ‘miracle money’ pay-out that raises governance and accountability questions.
Through the demonstrations, which the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and others are supporting, the CSOs are demanding cancellation of disbursement of the K4 billion fund and the resignation of Cabinet ministers Goodall Gondwe (Finance, Economic Planning and Development) and Kondwani Nankhumwa (Local Government and Rural Development) over their roles in the scam.
The demonstrations are set to be held under the theme For How Long Shall Malawians Continue To Be Taken for Granted? Loss of Public Trust in the Current Administration: Time to Reclaim Our Destiny.
The CSOs argue that the K4 billion allocation is illegal and not in the best interest of Malawians; hence, the need to immediately cancel it.
The groups also want the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to investigate allegations that government bribed some MPs from opposition parties to frustrate the Electoral Reforms Bills through rejection, abstaining or absenteeism during last November sitting of Parliament.
Besides, the protests will also be held over continued blackouts and government’s K45.2 billion bailout to State produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) without seeking parliamentary approval in 2017.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration has also been challenged to free taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation and act on all proposed reforms by PAC and the Law Commission’s report on the review of electoral laws (2017).
The K4 billion issue—that initially saw 86 legislators mostly affiliated to the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and its working partners getting about K40 million each—came to the fore during the Mid-Year Budget Review Meeting in Parliament in February.
But Nankhumwa clarified that both sides of the House decided to distribute the money equally, meaning that each of the 193 legislators would now receive K20.7 million.
However, the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) later made a U-turn, saying it does not want to be party to the fund.
On the protests day, protesters in Lilongwe will march from the Lilongwe Community Centre ground through Mchesi and Kamuzu Central Hospital roundabout via Lingadzi roundabout and Parliament Building to Kamuzu Palace, the official residence of the President.
Commentarors say demonstrations are really not about who should receive the petition whose contents everybody is aware of but most important is that whoever receives the petition should ensure it gets to the President.
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