Malawi’s main Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on have teamed up and formed a single platform, which they are calling, Citizens forum for the Defence of Good Governance(CFDGG), saying they are not seeking the illegal removal of President Peter Mutharika’s administration.
Addressing a news conference in the capital city Lilongwe to mark the official launch of the Citizen forum, CFDGG newly elected Chairperson of the grouping, who is also executive director of Centre For the Development of People(CEDEP) Gift Trapence said the main objective of the forum is to allow CSOs speak on issues of national importance with one voice.
Trapence said said human rights campaigners are law-abiding citizens expressing their views about the lack of good governance.
“The platform is aimed at creating a broad based social movement to speak with a common voice on issues affecting Malawians in the areas of good governance, transparency and accountability, rule of law and constitutionalism, and respect of human rights among others for the betterment of Malawi,” said Trapence.
The Citizens Forum for the Defence of Good Governance has since been given a motto “Promoting good governance, human rights and Democracy in Malawi a better Malawi is possible, people power.”
Trapence said, Citizens Forum is a movement of likeminded and partriotic CSOs and Networks, Faith Based Organisations, members of the academia, Students Union Movements, Trade Unionists, media, Business Associations, Farmers Associations, Members of Parliament, Youth Movements and patriotic Citizens in Diaspora.
He said with current social and economic challenges that the country is going through, there is need for civic groups to challenge the current state of affairs.
“While many Malawians have an increased understanding of their human rights and governance issues, many still look up to civic organizations to show leadership and explain to them the facts behind the issues. In 2002/2003, civic organizations built a broad coalition of churches, NGOs, students’ bodies and trade unions to oppose the third term amendments, a campaign which succeeded in persuading some MPs who helped in defeating the bill.
“ In 2011 CSOs, the faith community and patriotic Malawians stood up once again to fight for the social, economic and political liberation during the autocratic leadership of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) under Bingu wa Muthalika. Once again Malawians succeeded though it is sad that some lost their lives in process. We continue to quest for justice on the same,” said Trapence.
Justifying the need of the setting up of the structure, president of National Organisations of Nurses and Midwifery (NOMN), Mrs Dorothy Ngoma, said the need for a similar approach cannot be over emphasised given regrettably, some CSOs have slowly become “government NGOs” as they are in the front frustrating efforts to ensure adherence to the principles of good governance such as the rule of law, transparency, accountability and the respect for human rights.
Ngoma said it is sad that instead of finding concrete solutions to resurrect the dying social service delivery and economy, like in 2010 – 2011 the government is busy employing “unnecessary propaganda” by dividing CSOs, and castigating and suppressing the critical voices.
“Some CSOs leaders have already started receiving death threats from unknown people. However, with an organized campaign similar to the one of 2003 and 2011 against the extension of the presidential term and economic and social challenges and autocratic leadership respectively, the Malawian CSOs and Citizens are genuinely concerned with human rights and governance issues can take a major step in stopping the retrogressive steps the current government is taking through various strategies,” she said.
Ngoma said, there is need for deliberate efforts to bring the common man in the debate to defend human rights and above all, also engage relevant state actors on the need to ensure adherence to basic tenets of democracy and respect for human rights as per the Malawi National Constitution.
Commenting on the same executive director of Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) Timothy Mtambo said that it is the responsibility of every Malawian to ensure that this trend does not continue.
“The challenge that is there is that most Malawians have not been adequately empowered to be able to read the signs of times and rise up to the occasion. It is for this reason that CSOs and the Citizens need to pull together their efforts and scale up their endeavours to create an empowered nation. It is obvious that due to the magnitude of this task, no single NGO can go it alone.
“ It is upon this realization that CSOs intend to join hands and work together through the Citizens Forum for the Defence of Good Governance that will defend democracy and human rights and ensure that Malawi does not slide backwards,” said Mtambo.
Mtambo said the main purpose of the newly formed platform is to create a social accountability movement which will stand up to safeguard democratic and good governance principles and observance and respect for human rights as well as adherence to the rule of law in Malawi.
He said the movement will strive to create a critical mass of members of the general public that will be able to claim its rights, hold its leaders accountable and guard against tendencies that undermine democracy, good governance and rule of law.
Mtambo said the platform will facilitate dialogue with different stakeholders including the government on issues affecting Malawians as well as strengthening collaboration and voice of Malawian citizens so that they are able to seize their democratic space and hold their duty bears accountable.
Meanwhile the Citizens Forum has issued another statement asking President Mutharika to “work up” and fix the economy by among other solutions revising decent and affordable housing subsidy programme budget and put more resources to critical sectors such as education and health.
In the newly released communique, the CSOs have also demanded that Government should employ all the nurses which were withdrawn from their duty stations soon after their deployment.
The CSOs have also demanded that the President should quickly sign the much awaited Table Mountain declaration and support enactment of Access to information Bill.
The CSOs have also asked Malawi President to quickly open up Malawi Broadcasting Corporation(MBC) and ensure that its not being used as a propaganda tool.
The CSOs says failing to adhere to the demands the CSOs will mobilise Malawians so that they should be one to speak in their large number.
The communique has been signed by Exective Directors of CHRR,Timothy Mtambo, Gift Trapence of CEDEP, Dorothy Ngoma President of NONM, Llyid Mtalimanja of Malawi Health equity Network on behalf of MEHN ED Martha Kwataine, David Kamkwamba of JONEHA and Charles Kajoloweka of Youth and Society.
They have however denied that they are not advocating for the unconstitutional removal of President Mutharika.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :