Some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Mzuzu City say they are not in support of fellow CSOs’ plan to hold nationwide demonstrations slated for September 7, 2018 arguing the demos may fuel political violence.
The two CSOs, Christian Justice International (CJI) and Power of Peace Network, told reporters at Mimosa Court Hotel in Mzuzu that the demonstrations are ill-timed.
CJI’s President, Amos Chuma said much as they agree that government needs to be taken to task on some areas, the demonstrations may fuel political crushes already manifesting in some parts of the country.
“The demonstrations are ill-timed because elections are near. We have already seen violent crushes between some political parties and to call for all of them to the streets is like calling them to a battle field,” he said.
Chuma pointed out that CSOs would not participate in the demonstrations because they feel the strategy is not yielding results.
“This is not the first time CSOs are petitioning government; we did this in 2011, but those issues have not been addressed despite lives being lost during the exercise.
“This should tell that the strategy is not working; however, we have not been able to sit down as the CSO family to explore other strategies,” he said.
Power of Peace Network’s, Kenner Mlowoka said CSOs are supposed to lead activities that would promote peace, justice and development among Malawians, a development he said the September 7 demonstrations do not address them.
“Our responsibility is to make sure that in our decisions, we do not put Malawians in problems.
“However, I must say here that the decision does not represent views of all CSOs because some of us were not consulted on the decision,” he observed.
Mlowoka argued that there are more important pressing issues at the moment that the CSOs could engage in other than calling for demonstrations.
“Instead of concentrating on these ill-timed demos, why can’t CSOs lobby for high turnout at voter registration centres which are a burning issue at the moment? We should not just be vibrant in taking government to task and be silent when government needs a helping hand,” he noted.
Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), a grouping of CSOs in the country is organizing peaceful protests after expressing reservations with the executive’s response to its 10-point petition delivered during the April 27, 2018 demonstrations.
HRDC Northern Chairperson, Happy Mhango said the CSOs against the demos are not part of the coalition and they have every right not to join the call.
“We consulted CSOs that are part of the coalition. We are not surprised because every time there is a group that opposes just because they have been given something by government,” he viewed
Mhango said the grouping isolating itself from the demonstrations should not threaten Malawians with suggestions of violence because lessons from the past demonstrations have shown that it is possible to make peaceful demonstrations.
“Those who are preaching violence are the ones who want to bring violence because they will have been sent by their masters,” he said.
In recent weeks, the HRDC has been lobbying various institutions including Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and political parties to endorse their anti-government protests.
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