The Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) has again rejected an invitatio to meet President Peter Mutharika at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe for “dialogue” before their protest vigils slated for March 6 to 8 at State House, saying the President should address their demands which are “an open secret”.
A presidential adviser on non-governmental organisations Mavuto Bamusi and chairperson of the Presidential Taskforce on People With Albinism, Hetherwick Ntaba, who is also a presidential aide asked Apam executive and trustees to meet Mutharika twice last week but the invitations was turned down.
On Tuesday, Chief Secretary in the Office of President and Cabinet Lloyd Muhara issued a communication seen by Nyasa Times inviting the Persons With Albinism and other stakeholders to a dialogue meeting with President Mutharika this Thursday.
But Apam president Overstone Kondowe in a statement made available to Nyasa Times declined the fresh invitation.
Kondowe said Mutharika should address their demands as contained in several petitions about the challenges people with albinism [PWAs] face which were submitted to him.
“Specifically , we demand the immediate implementation of the National Action Plan which sets out clear parameters on how the myriad challenges must be addressed. Government is on record to have committed K3 billion,” reads the statement from APam in part.
“As Apam, this is the central focus of our core demands. It is our view that this does not necessitate another forum as our demands are an open secret,” it adds.
Apam’s refusal to meet the President before the planned vigils comes days after the association withdrew from the Ntaba-chaired task force following Minister of Homeland Security Nicholas Dausi’s remarks that atrocities against PWAs had not reached levels where they should hold vigils at State House or seek asylum abroad.
Dausi has apologised and withdrawn his insensitive remarks.
But the association which has also met several stakeholders, including the country’s Vice-President Saulos Chilima who also leads UTM Party and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera, say the honourable thing for Dausi to do would be resigning as minister.
Commentator Stanley Onjezani Kenani Has said APAM)l is right in turning down the “made-for-the-cameras” meeting with the President, “whose half-hearted attempts at ending the killings of people with albinism leave no one in doubt that there will be no tangible outcome. “
He wrote on Facebook: “They will provide Fanta, no doubt. Then they will make empty speeches in which they will express their ‘commitment’ to the security of persons with albinism. After that, they will pose for MBC TV and newspaper cameras, then everyone will go home.
“The real reason the President wants to meet them is to stem the political fall-out from his casual approach of handling the situation. He wants votes, not their well-being.
“Two weeks ago, the president told the nation blatant lies that he had ordered the Police to step up patrols, and that the army too had been ordered to help. His cabinet minister ridiculed the cause of albinism, and some accused people are pointing fingers at the government as being behind the killings. So far suspects in two killings committed ‘suicide’, while the third was murdered by the police only last week.”
Kenani says he sees no sense of urgency in this, except lies and mockery and a desperate attempt to give an impression that something is being done to stop the killings.
Meanwhile, Apam’s planned vigils are scheduled to be preceded by a solidarity march from Lilongwe Community Centre ground through Parliament Building to Kamuzu Palace to petition the President.
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