Minister of Civic Education and National Unity, Timothy Mtambo has called for “national healing”, saying his ministry will converge a team of various stakeholders that will champion the national healing process through the “Truth and Reconciliation programme” and move forward as one country.
Mtambo said this in Mzuzu when he attended this year’s memorial ceremony into the killings of 20 people during the July 20 2011 nationwide anti-Bingu wa Mutharika demonstrations which was the climax of the country’s dictatorial rule under the former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
He supported calls for government to institute a special police complaints commission to investigate the killing of 20 demonstrators on July 20 2011 against a background of accusations that the police used live ammunition to kill the victims after getting orders from political leaders.
“Malawians can only forgive and forget if we create a forum where everybody knows what happened, why it happened, holding those responsible accountable, lessons that we can draw from what happened and also how to avoid that in future so that we move on together as a nation. That is the principle of Transitional Justice,” said Mtambo, a former human rights campaigner.
He said the July 20 martyrs did not die in vain as the change they orchestrated in 2011 has been achieved this year.
“The only crime these people committed was because they fought for better Malawi for them and their children. We can never stifle the power of the people. These heroes have inspired us so much. You can kill a liberator but you can never kill a liberation struggle. You can arrest a revolutionary but you can never arrest a revolution. The struggle must continue and must go on,” he said.
Mtambo also said Malawi has not fully healed since it got independent in 1964.
“Malawi saw the dawn of political pluralism in 1993 but did not heal. Our country had just changed leaderships but now time has come for a healing,” he said.
The minister said lack of national healing has made politicians to keep referring to old atrocities by forcing public broadcaster MBC to air hate-filled programmes like “Never Again, Sapita Kawiri.”
“Such irresponsible thinking does not build the nation, but rather destroy,” he noted.
Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chairperson Gift Trapence, who said was part of the 2011 struggle together with Undule Mwakasungula, warned the new administration that they will not tire to hold demonstrations if need be.
“I was in Blantyre that time and if you remember there was an injunction. I and Mwakasungula went to court to vacate that injunction. My point is these people who were killed did not die in vain. It is through their death that we are here.
“I ask from the new government through you honourable minister [Mtambo] is to arrest all those involved in corruption which has brought this country to its knees. We shall not tire as HRDC to hold you accountable and we shall be holding demonstrations whenever need be,” said Trapence.
He also asked for a review of the compensation for the bereaved families saying what they got was a raw deal.
The government in 2014 compensated the bereaved families with K33 million, out of which K11 million was paid to the lawyer.
Representative of the bereaved families, Mercy Mbezuma, did not mince words to civil society organizations to stop using people to gain popularity at the expenses of their vulnerability and later abandon them in times of trouble like injuries.
“Some of the other members who were injured in 2011 are not supported until now. So they are complaining now because they don’t have anyone to take care of. Yes we do remember those that died, but the injured too need assistance,” says Mbezuma.
Apart from 20 who were killed, 98 were injured and at least 500 were arrested.
Other notable speakers at the ceremony were former state vice president, Khumbo Kachali, Malawi Congress Party vice president for the Northern Region, Harry Mkandawire and Livingstonia Synod of the CCAP General Secretary, Reverend Levi Nyondo.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :