Rights watchdog condemns ‘badmouthing’ Mutharika

Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika has been asked to stop using hate speeches and desist from badmouthing donors and critics.

Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) an umbrella of rights groups in Malawi, said in a statement made available to Nyasa Times  on Tuesday that Mutharika should stop his inflammatory,  intimidating and abusive comments in public meetings, saying it will  inflame tension and violence instead of peace, harmony and tranquillity amongst Malawians.

In a speech broadcast on state radio late on Sunday,  Mutharika exhorted his supporters to “step in and defend their father” by any means necessary rather than just sit back and watch him take crap from donors, rights groups and growing band of critics.

Sembereka: Co-signed the HRCC statement

Stop inciting

“As a leader elected by the people of Malawi, we demand that the President desist from making inflammatory statements which only serve to heighten levels of politically motivated violence,” said HRCC in a statement co-signed by its acting National Coordinator, Rev MacDonald Sembereka and vice chairperson, Margret Ali.

“We call upon him [Mutharika] to confine his speeches to issues that focus on finding solutions to the current political and economic challenges in Malawi,” the statement added.

But presidential spokesman Hetherwick Ntaba said he found nothing wrong with the President’s speech.

Intimidation

HRCC also expressed concern with continued acts of intimidation of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) in the country.

“We strongly believe that these acts are planned and meant to weaken both the work and resolve of HRDs in Malawi,” the statement said.

“We note particularly the recent attempts to compromise the safety of the Chairperson of the Human Rights Consultative Committee, (HRCC) who is also the Executive Director of the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) Mr. Undule Mwakasungula.”

It is noted that regime thugs on the night of 2nd March 2012 pasted a sign on the gate leading to CHRR offices reading ‘Offices for let’ with his photo and offices Telephones numbers and at his house with the same message and telephone numbers. Similar acts occurred to private practice lawyer Wapona Kita.

The rights defenders said they would hold Mutharika government responsible and accountable for any acts of wanton violence “should anything happen to our leadership or any other Human Rights Defender.”

Chiefs condemned 

HRCC also denounced the increasingly partisan role of traditional leaders.

“Some wayward traditional leaders have opted to abandon their mandate of serving their subjects and opting to side with the government as it continues to promote policies which are neither pro-poor nor serving the best interests of our nation,” said the statement.

The watchdog cited the examples of traditional leaders who were recently invited to State House to endorse the Zero Deficit Budget as well as the call for the government to devalue the Kwacha.

The financial plan using local resources – was introduced last year as aid groups closed their taps on Malawi over economic and governance concerns. Aid withdraw has affected the country’s economy which was heavily dependent on foreign assistance.

HRCC also said it is “dismayed” by the recent calls by T/A Kanduku and Malinki to “deliberately discriminate” against their subjects who are of Chewa origin with the aim of forcing them to practice Ngoni culture.

The rights campaigners asked traditional leaders to immediately desist from sowing the seeds of ethnic division among the people they serve.

HRCC said Malawi is “in dire need” of traditional leaders who can stand up to the machinations of the political leadership while expounding the complexities of traditional models of governance and how they can reshape the country’s political and social structures.

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