The National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Public Trust has highlighted inability of citizens to hold duty-bearers accountable in service delivery and corresponding limited responsiveness from duty-bearers as some of the barriers towards attainment of meaningful socioeconomic transformation in Malawi.
The Trust further attributes the country’s sluggish development of democratic governance to limited engagement and participation by citizens in democratic possesses and prevalence of culture of intolerance, tribalism, nepotism, clientelism and politics of patronage.
NICE Executive Director Ollen Mwalubunju made the sentiments during the launch of the five-year Strategic Plan at a function held in Lilongwe on Thursday.
But Mwalubunju, in his 36-paged presentation before the team from European Union (EU), Minister of National Unity Timothy Pagonachi Mtambo, senior government officials, and leaders of civil society organizations, observed that there is inadequate respect and knowledge of rule of law, economic and social rights by citizens, which have led to increased culture of corruption, poverty and economic inequalities in Malawi
“There is limited understanding and appreciation of citizen duties and responsibilities among Malawians and the need to put them into practice. There is also limited appreciation by citizens to hold duty bearers accountable at all levels of governance and weak local democratic structures to enforce transparency and accountability,” he said.
However, Mwalubunju admitted that NICE has not adequately prioritized to address some of the critical issues such as climate change, population, gender and women empowerment, HIV and AIDs, Covid-19, sexual and reproductive health rights, rights of other marginalised groups.
He said just launched strategic plan aims to improve citizens’ capacity to effectively engage and participate in the electoral processes at all levels including electoral reforms by 2026.
It also aims to deepen citizens conscientization on the value of tolerance, peaceful coexistence, and social cohesion in society by 2026.
“Through this strategic plan, NICE intends to strengthen management and organization of structures and initiatives promoting peaceful co-existence and social cohesion at community level by 2026; to support capacity building initiatives of local structures promoting peaceful co-existence and social cohesion by 2026 and to enhance the capacity of Malawian citizens to actively participate in decision and policy making processes at all levels by 2026,” said Mwalubunju.