Nankhumwa says he will hold government responsible should anything bad happen to abducted Namiwa

Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Kondwani Nankhumwa, while calling upon the Police to quickly institute investigations to arrest and bring to book abductors of civil rights activist, Sylvester Namiwa, adds that he is also monitoring the situation closely and should anything bad happen to him, he will hold the government responsible.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Nankhumwa said he has “learnt with deep shock, that Namiwa — who is executive director for Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiative (CDEDI), was abducted Wednesday afternoon at Area 3 in Lilongwe.

He also takes cognizance that the abduction took place just hours before Namiwa was expected to lead nation-wide demonstrations on Thursday, July 28, 2022 to push for the removal of presidential immunity against prosecution in the country.

Sylvester Namiwa

“Recently, CDEDI was also in the forefront in bringing to light a culture of theft and wanton abuse of allowances by some senior government officials in the country.

“Malawi is a multiparty democracy, which among other things upholds the values of freedom of speech and conscience. Although it is very easy to connect the dots as to who is not comfortable with Mr Namiwa, I do not want to believe that our democracy has retrogressed to the level where government is sending agents to abduct its critics,” Nankhumwa said.

Reports indicate that the Police are are investigating Namiwa’s abduction, which took place immediately after he and others held a press conference ahead of their planned demonstrations tomorrow.

CDEDI communications officer, Edwin Mauluka, is quoted by the media as saying he was with Namiwa at the time of the abduction — that an unregistered vehicle with over five occupants blocked their vehicle before beating and whisking Namiwa away.

“While we were driving home from the press briefing, another vehicle stopped in front of us and bouncers pulled Namiwa out of our vehicle,” he is quoted as saying. “Namiwa was beaten and then bundled into the the other car and the abductors drove away.

Meanwhile, CDEDI has released a statement saying that the abduction has not come as a surprise since Namiwa has on several occasions this week been pestered by the authorities from Area 30 Police Headquarters in Lilongwe and the Lilongwe District Council, to attend some meetings whose agenda items were not clearly stated.

“Furthermore, Mr. Namiwa’s kidnapping has reminded all the well-meaning Malawians about how ruthlessness and barbaric the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) is, and has brought back the old memories of darkness, kidnapping, killing and detention without trial,” CDEDI said in its statement.

Commenting on his Facebook page, one Benson Jackson Ojesi trending as Caweo Cameras, opines that while Namiwa’s abduction is very disturbing, records however have shown the civil rights activist’s CDEDI, and 11 others, “have a bail condition which states that they should never hold any demonstrations in Malawi until the matter is concluded”.

He indicated that the bail was granted on August 13, 2021 by Mkukula Magistrate Court, whose conditions are that CDEDI, Namiwa and his friends who were arrested on August 11, 2021, “are barred from holding any demonstrations because of organising illegal demonstrations during the time leaders of the SADC States were meeting at BICC in Lilongwe”.

“This means that if Mr Namiwa, CDEDI and the eleven others, get involved in organising demonstrations, they will be in contempt of court.

“We suspect that the abduction is staged in an attempt make Malawians believe that he will not participate in the demonstrations because he was abducted.

“However, whether the demonstrations will go ahead with Mr Namiwa or without, CDEDI and the eleven others will be in contempt of court. In this era, in the year 2022, when everyone is free to express themselves and hold demonstrations, no one would abduct organisers of demonstrations in Malawi,” he said.

The abduction also follows a report of the investigations that CDEDI conducted on alleged fraudulent financial activities at the Accountant General’s office from June to July, which exposes some high ranking people.

In the report, CDEDI demanded from government that all controlling officers — who approved dubious accumulated and unjustified allowances that led to the recent spate of arrests — should be arrested by the Fiscal Police.

And that meanwhile, no further arrests should be made in Ministry of Finance until the Minister releases allowances data for every public officer beginning from senior most, including cabinet ministers to the junior officers.

The civil society organization (CSO) also demands that Secretary to the Treasury and the Accountant General should “publicly defend their competence in safeguarding public funds, or they should honourably resign before being forced to do so on grounds of incompetence and criminal negligence”.

CDEDI said it conducted its investigations after the spate of arrests of accountants at the Accountant General office, who are accused of defrauding government huge sums of money, starting from early June 2022, saying the arrests “brought a lot of questions than answers”.

CDEDI indicated that this was “just a snapshot of information that is still trickling through” and that they will “continue compiling the data, since the investigations are still on-going”.

The concluded that the arrested accountants “cannot draw money from Account No. 1 on their own” and that “in an unlikely event that this indeed happened, then the Accountant General, the Secretary to the Treasury and controlling officers would be the biggest failures and not fit to be in those offices, and to put it bluntly, they deserved to be arrested first!

“It is a very well-known fact that there is a culture of allowances everywhere in the public sector. Top government officials benefit by obtaining obscene cuts from the very limited national cake.

“The situation at hand is subjecting junior civil servants to undeserved torture just because they powerless.

“Taking into consideration all these findings, we suspect these arrests are being done in order to divert people’s attention from the real issues such as the alleged high profile Zuneth Sattar corruption scandal, as well as the collapsing economy under the Tonse Alliance government.”

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