Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) march will proceed with their planned anti-government demonstrations as planned on Friday but authorities warned protesters they would face the “full wrath of the law” if they defy conditions given by Lilongwe City Council (LCC) and the Malawi Police Service (MPS).
Among the conditions imposed on the HRDC is that, the demonstrations in the Capital City Lilongwe will only take a period of two hours and thirty minutes from 7.00 am to 9.30 am at which time they shall be called off and the place for delivery of the petition is the Civic Offices at city centre and nowhere else.
The demonstrations are supposed to commence from Kamuzu Central Hospital roundabout heading to Kenyatta road then towards the Convention road past Reserve Bank of Malawi then Civic Offices, according to the communication signed by LCC Chief Executive Officer Moza Zeleza.
HRDC chairperson Timothy Mtambo and his deputy Gift Trapence have confirmed receiving the letter but wondered why they have attached stringent conditions for their demonstrations when all Malawians have an equal right to demonstrate anywhere they want.
The activists are defiant that said they will go ahead with the demonstrations and stick with their planned routes.
“No one has to prescribe where to demonstrate or not. We will address this impunity of those in authority who think that they are the law itself. Why should it only be ruling party functionaries who are allowed to demonstrate anywhere in the country?
“Is the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and its followers more Malawian than citizens of this country? We will make sure that freedom of assembly is protected and we are ready to challenge such behaviour in court,” said Trapence.
The HRDC had planned to start their demonstrations from Lilongwe Community Centre Ground via Mchesi all the way to the Kamuzu Central Hospital roundabout via Parliament then Capital Hill where they were supposed to present their petition.
But Zeleza has said the police whose mandate is to protect life and property will be out in full force to deal with any disturbances that may arise.
“The MPS shall provide security to maintain peace, order and ensure strict observation of the law. The organisers shall provide marshals who shall work together with the Police,” reads the communication in part signed by Zeleza.
The demonstrators are also being warned not to “indecently expose themselves fully or partially.”
Zeleza said in the communiqué: “In accordance with the Penal Code provisions regarding decency at all times before, during and after the demonstrations or at any place within the vicinity of the agreed route.”
But organisers have said protesters are being asked put on colours in the Malawi national flag: red, black and green which marks a shift from the norm of red t-shirts.
In Mzuzu, the demonstrators plan to March from Upper Stadium through Mataifa Market and High Court Roundabout to the Civic Offices where the new petition is expected to be delivered.
The demonstrations, whose theme is Restoring our Destiny, are a follow up to HRDC’s April 27 ten-point petition against poor governance which the group claims government did not fully address.
The CSOs, among other issues, want government to address worsening corruption in the country and theft of fuel worth K 1.9 billion at Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom).Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :