Malawians in UK to hold vigil at embassy

By Loti Banda, Nyasa Times

The Malawi Diaspora Forum (MDF) says it plans to hold vigil at the Malawi High Commission’s offices in London in solidarity with Malawians who have planned mass demonstrations on August 17.

Placards demo; Malawi Diaspora Forum at Park Inn Hotel in Nottingham after conference. Photo by Thoko Jumbe Patterson

This was disclosed at the Forum’s conference in Nottingham on Saturday at Park Inn Hotel when delegates demanded protests at the embassy.

MDF coordinator Thom Chiumia said the Forum will announce dates for the vigil when they get clearance from security authorities.

Chiumia said the reasons for demonstrations is to ask President Bingu wa Mutharika to explain his personal wealth, address foreign exchange and fuel shortages and reconcile with Britain, which froze aid after a diplomatic spat.

“MDF will continue to take a robust stance to effect change in Malawi from abroad,” said Chiumia. “Only recently we managed to petition the United States based Hunger Project against awarding Mutharika the Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger.”

“We successfully lobbied for the withdraw of the courtesy visa for the Mutharika administration and met the UK’ Foreign and Commonwealth officials to highlight the president’s gross violations of human rights soon after the July 20 protests,”  Chiumia told the conferencd.

The Diaspora Forum also made a fresh appeal to President Mutharika to resign peacefully saying he has until October 18 to cede power or face removal.

Condemning the July 20 deaths of 19 protesters across Malawi due to police use of lethal force, main speaker Edgar Chibaka said they didn’t die in vain but “they are the martyrs whose blood will always symbolise the true values of democracy and those responsible should know that one day they will face justice at the International Criminal Court.”

Pastor Patrick Mtimbusya warned Mutharika that his continuing abuse of power, crackdown on peaceful protesters, arrogances and a spate of economic blunders have made Malawi derelict, adding that “Malawians will not be cowed in their quest for freedom.”

In his take, George Mlanga said: “Malawians deserve the better, but as long as Mutharika remains in power there is no respite from the crisis that has blighted Malawi.”

Stuart Mpekasambo said while he agreed with the call for Mutharika to resign, he said Education Minister Peter Mutharika, the President’s brother should be the first to resign for failure to handle the stand-off between university lecturers  and police over academic freedom.

“Peter Mutharika must resign, now!” Mpekasambo demanded.

Lorraine Mponela, former lecture at Malawi College  of Health Sciences , said it was appalling that university studenst at Chancellor College were not learning despite being at the campus due to misunderstanding on academic freedom.

“Seriously, we need to do something because without tertiary education the country is doomed,” she said.

Moderator of the conference Peter Makossa said the lengthening list of problems facing Malawians is forcing them to take to the streets and that protests underscore that there are grievances among citizens that need to be addressed.

“It’s time the President realised that he was employed to govern and he is not immune from getting sacked by the very people who elected him,” he said.

People’s Transformation Party (Petra) UK chairperson, Prisca Juma Phiri, said Malawi needs new set of leaders who should has the spirit of Umunthu not the “I don’t care” attitude of Mutharika.

Martha Sitole Nkhoma added that is time “Mutharika packed up his bags at State House and go without waiting to be evicted.”

Blogger Chalo Mvula said  Malawians endured decades of iron fisted rule under Hastings Kamuzu Banda,  and will have to do it all over again as they face heightened repression under Mutharika.

“We should join hands in fighting for justice and restoration of democracy in Malawi,” said Mvula.

While Petra UK spokesman Fides Kachale bemoaned that Mutharika remains deaf to the cries of the nation and that he is also blind to the plight of his people.

“Malawians lets speak out against this dictator now. We should not wait until our country’s situation is worse than Zimbabwe. The time to fight is now,” he said.

After the conference delegates had a set of photo opportunities with placards calling for Mutharika to resigns and others calling for prosecution at International Criminal Court.

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