Petition for Hunger Project to revoke Bingu’s award

A petition has been put online , ipetitions.com,soliciting signatures to stop the Hunger Project from presenting 2011 coveted Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger to Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika.

Malawi President and Liberia’s Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Florence Chenowethwere were named the joint winners of this year’s prize.

The two joint laureates of the Africa Prize will receive their awards at our Annual Fall Event on October 22, 2011 in New York City.

They will also be presented a sculpture by the famed artist Takenobu Igarashi and a cash award of US$100,000 to further their work for the sustainable end of hunger.

But the online petition seeks to stop the award being given to “dictators” like Wa Mutharika.

The petition says Wa Mutharika’s achievements in food security “have been greatly offset by misguided economic policies that have only worsened the impoverished state of Malawi, where 40 per cent of people live below the poverty line.”

It reads: “Coupled with a blatant disregard for the rule of law and democratic principles, Mutharika’s presidency has been nothing short of disastrous for the majority of Malawians.

“While food security may have been improved by the increase in maize production under his reign, general poverty levels are worse than ever. Mutharika’s government has even recently increased taxes on basic foodstuffs such as milk and meat, undermining his supposed stance as a champion in the fight against world hunger.”

The petition further pointed out that Malawi is further suffering under the dual burden of shortages of petrol and foreign exchange, problems that have arisen under Wa Mutharika’s term only and which the government has chronically failed to address.

“In the face of all these problems, the administration has attempted to silence critics by pushing through repressive laws, banning public demonstrations and even using outright intimidation tactics that are a clear violation of human rights.”

It also highlights the July 20 and 21 demonstrations and security forces use of excessive force, leading to the deaths of 18 people.

“This obvious example of the government’s wanton disregard for the basic rights of ordinary Malawians has earned Mutharika’s government condemnation from international groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.”

Signatories to the petition will call on Mary Ellen McNish, CEO of The Hunger Project, to revoke the honouring of Wa Mutharika as a laureate in the 2011 Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger.

“We make this request based on two facts: First, that Mutharika is a leader who has blatantly violated the democratic and human rights of the Malawian people.

“Second, his half-hearted efforts in ending hunger are little more than posturing, and his leadership is not one that should be held as an example for the world.”

The prize was first won by the current State Vice President and social activist Joyce Banda who jointly scooped the 1997 award with Mozambican president Joachim Chissano. (Reporting by Malawi Democrat).

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