The demand by civil society organisations (CSOs) who are planning anti-government nationwide protests to have President Peter Mutharika and some of his Cabinet ministers attend a dialogue meeting on outstanding issues on Wednesday afternoon will not me met, a presidential aide has said as the activist threaten not to pull out.
Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) asked organisers of the Friday protests to a dialogue meeting on Tuesday but Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chairperson Timothy Mtambo asked for the meeting to be shifted to Wednesday afternoon and that set conditions among them that the activists will only attend the meeting at Capital Hill if President Peter Mutharika or relevant line ministers commit to be in the meeting.
However, presidential adviser on CSOs, Mavuto Bamusi said to expect President Mutharika and ministers to attend the meeting government initiated to open dialogue is “expecting too much.”
But HRDC chair Mtambo and his deputy Gift Trapence have remained adamant that if their demands are not met to have President Mutharika attend or line ministers to represent him, they will not be worth attending the meeting.
Trapence said the activists have set their demands and parameters for the meeting including that the meeting should also be open to the media.
“Given the gravity of the issues, they require high level responses from key policy and decision makers,” said Trapence.
Trapence said the CSOs do not want a “talk-show” with lower level officers.
But Minister of Information and government spokesman Nicholous Dausi has said government has assembled a high-level delegation of technocrats for the dialogue process.
“This being a technical dialogue process, the CSOs are assured that government has put together a high-level team of senior government officials that are more than capable to engage the CSOs in a fruitful dialogue,” Dausi said in a statement made available to Nyasa Times.
“Government is ready to collectively discuss with the CSOs during the early moments of the dialogue meeting the specific rules of engagement. These include the best approach for interfacing with the media, so that the dialogue operates on collectively generated terms that will create a conducive environment for a sustained dialogue process,” he added.
CSOs are planning to hold anti-government protests on Friday which the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and Vice-President Saulos Chilima have endorsed.
The demonstrations, whose theme is Restoring Our Destiny, are a follow-up to HRDC’s April 27 10-point petition against poor governance which the group claims government did not fully address.
Among issues to be raised in the demonstrations are government’s failure to address worsening corruption in the country and theft of fuel worth K 1.9 billion at Electricity Supply Commission of Malawi (Escom).
They will also demand the resignation of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general Reyneck Matemba, and immediate suspension of the contract for the supply of gensets.
The HRDC cancelled the protests from September 7 2018 to September 21 to avoid clashes with governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) youth cadets who were expected to hold what they called a Blue March in Blantyre on the same day, but did not eventually do it.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :