Renowned human rights and governance expert Undule Mwakasugula has challenged that demonstrations and protests against the Tonse Alliance government will not help to resolve the worsening economic hardships Malawians are going through, stressing that protests must be used as a last resort after exhausting all other avenues of engagement and dialogue.
Mwakasungula, in a statement issued on Tuesday evening, emphasized that only a genuine national inclusive engagement, dialogue and participation could help Malawi find lasting solutions to the deteriorating economic crisis.
The proposal comes against the announcement by UTM National Director for the Youth, Bon Kalindo, that he organized a series of protests in Blantyre, Lilongwe, Zomba and Mzuzu to express their displeasure over the unprecedented rise in prices of essential goods and services.
Kalindo said he wants to deliver a strong message to President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera that ‘pa ground sipali bwino (the situation is unbearable on the ground)’.
But Mwakasungula, in reaction to the call for protests, wondered if Kalindo had already exhausted all the avenues for contact and dialogue with the government of which he is part.
However, the human rights stalwart acknowledges that the current economic situation is affecting Malawians due to the rising of cost of living with basic commodities becoming un-affordable hence making it difficult for Malawians to survive.
“It is an open secret that this is bringing fear and uncertainty among Malawians in terms of whether this is the change they voted for. But the questions we need to ask ourselves are: Are protests the best way to resolve the current crisis the country is going through? Are these protests meant to help Tonse government come up with better strategizes to alleviate the suffering of the people? Or are these protests looking at regime change as it has been in the case with the previous demonstrations? Who is going benefit from these demonstrations?” asked Mwakasungula.
He added, “It is important to note that much as we are going through these economic challenges the best the country can do is to genuinely engage in an inclusive manner to collectively own and address the all challenges. Our government should be open enough for an inclusive national dialogue catering all Malawians in order to find amicable solutions for betterment of our country. We can afford to lose the opportunity of an inclusive national engagement and dialogue. The Tonse government must be honest enough to facilitate this process.”
He expressed dismay that a senior UTM member should be calling for protests, yet the party is a key partner in the Tonse Alliance government.
Mwakasungula stressed that it shows some hypocrisy and leadership issues within UTM for the party’s senior member to be calling for protests.
“This definitely must be a call for discipline as you can not call for protests against the same government you are part and parcel of. You cannot point a finger at one individual partner in government for the current challenges while you remain in there? that’s hypocrisy and taking Malawians for granted. Tonse as a key Tonse government partner must not run away from being accountable. For sure something is not adding up here.”
“Let me confess that peaceful demonstrations or protests are a constitutional right but these must be used as a last resort after exhausting all other avenues of engagement and dialogue. That is why some of us have not changed our position for the need to accommodate national dialogue and engagement from the time of Late President Bingu Wa Mutharika to date. Demonstrations which have ill motives of calling for regime change must not be entertained. Malawi will not be built or prevail based on ill-conceived demonstrations that have agendas of removing democratically elected governments.”
Mwakasungula urged Malawians not follow some “these calls from certain individuals who have hidden agendas or those who want to create space to promote individual interests as we have seen in the past, stressing that Malawians must wake up now and judge whether these demonstrations have changed their lives.
“If its yes then they can join, if no then let them use other peaceful avenues for change and betterment of their lives. Lastly, I am appealing to people from the northern region in particular to use wisdom before joining these calls for demonstrations. The people from the north have been used and manipulated for so long to bring political changes in this country and yet we have not fully enjoyed the national cake. During the last elections violent demonstrations many properties were destroyed for both government and individuals in the north (specifically in Mzuzu, Karonga and partially Chitipa) with the assumption that after change things will be improve.
“But very little has been seen in terms of developing the north hence no reason for northerners to continuing support and participating in these calls’ demonstrations. These demonstrations for sure have no benefit for the northern region but only individuals championing. The north therefore must now focus on rebuilding what was destroyed, push for inclusion in participation in national affairs such as developmental projects, participation in leadership and decision making with the Tonse government for that what their promises,” he said.
“BE PART OF PROMOTING GENUINE NATIONAL ENGAGEMENT AND DIALOGUE! NOT DEMONSTRATIONS! Let peace and harmony prevail in Malawi,” thus Mwakasungula concluded his press statement.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :