Ministry of National Unity calls for peaceful co-existence after hate speeches on Malawians of Asian origin

In what seems to be a reaction to political, economic and social rights activist, Ken Msonda’s statement in which he accused people of Asian origin as masquerading as Malawians because they hold dual citizenship, Ministry of National Unity has intervened, saying this tantamount to promotion of hate speech; racially motivated violence and xenophobic statements.

In a statement Minister Timothy Mtambo said while acknowledging the right to peaceful protest according to Chapter 4, Section 38 of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi, the Ministry also appeals “to everyone against instigating racially motivated violence and any form of discrimination”.

Mtambo: We need co-existence

“Let us be reminded that Malawi is governed by laws and whatever we are doing should happen within the confines of the law.”

Msonda circulated a voice note on social media explosively imploring on Malawians to firmly stand up alongside Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General, Martha Chizuma, who has been sued by corruption suspect Ashok Kumar Streedharan for alleged defamation.

Msonda argued that these suspects, who are of Asian origins, should be treated as masquerading as Malawians since they possess dual citizenship yet they claim the United Kingdom as their home with Malawi as just a base to “steal” government money through illegal means.

Minister Mtambo takes cognizance that this has led to multiple attacks that are awash in the social media platforms.

“The right to freedoms of opinion and expression is sacred to all of us according to Sections 34 and 35 respectively,” Mtambo says. “However, we must with great caution concurrently exercise such freedoms without having to infringe on other person’s human rights and freedoms, including right to economic activity in Section 29, and the right to citizenship as stipulated under Section 47 of the Constitution.

“Having an issue with one or two members of a grouping should not amount to profiling the entire race of the Malawian-Asian descent. Citizens are encouraged to respect the rule of law and always allow the due process of the law to take its course.

Mtambo thus appeals to the general public, organizers of demonstrations and all peace-loving Malawians “to desist from using statements that have the potential to instigate racially charged violence against fellow Malawians of Asian descent and the Asian business community”.

“In the same vein, Malawians of Asian origin are advised to avoid provocative responses which may lead to further unnecessary tensions — two wrongs do not make a right.

“The Ministry is engaging with all relevant stakeholders and taking all the necessary measures to ensure that any kind of conflicts and misunderstandings are always resolved amicably and in a timely manner.

“The Ministry’s mandate is to foster and prioritize peace and dialogue,” says Mtambo while strongly condemning any form of hate speech and discrimination according to section 20 of the Republic of Malawi Constitution.

“We appeal to the general public to always desist from hate speech, provocative statements and any conduct that might cause disunity. As peace loving Malawians, we are all obliged to peacefully co-exist as well as expressing our opinions, feelings and beliefs without necessarily infringing on other person’s human rights.

“As one people, we all have a right to exist, conduct legally accepted business and live here in Malawi as stipulated in Section 29 of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi.

“Racial profiling, xenophobic statements, discrimination and instigating violence are all tantamount to breaking the law. Let us embrace peaceful co-existence and unity as a catalyst for national development and prosperity in line with Malawi Development Vision 2063, since no country can develop without peace and unity.”

Msonda assured the public that concerned Malawians have mobilized themselves to protect Chizuma and her office and implored on the legal system not to entertain any alleged corrupt individuals to seek court interventions.

Meanwhile, social rights activists Joshua Chisa Mbele and Levi Luwemba have applied to hold legal demonstrations to Ashok’s house on Wednesday, March 12.

In a letter seeking approval signed by spokesperson of Chisa Mbele’s and Luwemba’s grouping — trending as Citizens Against Impunity and Corruption — applies to Lilongwe District Council to march from Simama Hotel to Ashok’s house in Area 9 via Lilongwe Town Hall and Maula.

“We have decided to meet this man so that he knows us and we also know him, in person,” said the letter Lilongwe District Commissioner, copied to the officer in charge for Lilongwe Police.

“The demonstrations are a direct result of Mr. Ashok Kumar Streedharan, a corruption suspect, to sue the people’s Director General Martha Chizuma in her personal capacity, on matters arising from the very case in which Mr Ashok is being sought to be prosecuted.”

The statement said Citizens Against Impunity and Corruption is “a congregation of well-meaning and patriotic citizens who have mobilized themselves to stand against impunity and government’s unfathomable tolerance to corruption”.

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