Governance and human rights expert Undule Mwakasungula has reiterated his call for genuine national engagement and dialogue on the socioeconomic challenges currently weighing down poor Malawians.
The once most feared government critic Mwakasungula argues that holding peaceful demonstrations to force the Tonse Alliance government to start implementing its campaign promises such as creation of one million jobs and bringing down the cost of living will not help the country move forward.
He has made the sentiments in a press release issued on Monday.
“…looking from the way the demonstrations are being planned and conducted, you question whether they have any clear strategy in terms how the issues advocated for should be tackled. You might further question are the demonstrations meant to undermine the Tonse government and derail its developmental plans hence make it seen as failed to govern? Are these demonstrations with hidden agenda of regime change?” questions Mwakasungula.
He adds, “These questions are being asked noting that the demonstrators have been giving government ultimatums to respond to their demands and threatening to go back to the streets if their concerns are not addressed. This is pure blackmail and can result in putting government make unnecessary concessions just to meet the demands of demonstrators without proper engagement and dialogue. Government therefore must handle this carefully otherwise as it might bring unnecessary expectations which might end into more chaos and confusions.”
He challenges Malawians to starting questioning whether continued demonstrations or presenting to government petitions with endless ultimatums will help resolve the issues or do we need to engage and dialogue as a nation.
Mwakasungula states that the current challenges facing this nation will not and cannot be addressed by government alone or through demonstrations.
“No matter how many demonstrations we will conduct if we do not engage and talk, Malawi’s problems will remain and become worse. Genuine engagement and dialogue will bring short and long-term benefits, improved relations and cooperation with government, enabling further development through social and political action. We must agree dialogue will bring both slow and lasting results, but in the end, constructive solutions. This is what the nation need.
“Very important to understand that while the government is trying to take measures to solve the problems, Malawian citizens still have the right to express their needs and hopes in public when and where necessary in a peaceful manner and without hidden agenda. But It is also disturbing to see that some of the members in the fore front organising these demonstrations are from UTM as seen mostly in the north. This then makes many wonder how can a key member of government undermine the same government it is part of? Is this lack of direction of the entire party not to understand policies they advocated for during the campaign period? I strongly believe members of UTM regardless of their positions must articulate and defend their policies or promises and not running away by pushing the blame to other members,” reads the statement.
Mwakasungula has also advised UTM members not run away or jump the boat by supporting demonstrations, but must be part and parcel of solving the country’s challenges by engaging their partners in the government to address them collectively.
“Lastly but not least, I call once more for national inclusive engagement and dialogue, for consensus, for thinking of the good of the country and not of personal or political interests. In these moments of economic recovery, it is time to be united. Both government and demonstrators must move away from their rigid positions for the good of our country. In conclusion, the country will not reach a favourable solution through imposition, or by making a call for confrontation, but only by listening mutually to each other and looking for the betterment of our country, Malawi,” thus Mwakasungula concludes his epistle.
Government Spokesperson and Minister of Information, Gospel Kazako, said the Tonse Alliance administration has always advocated for meaningful and constructive engagement and dialogue with every well-meaning Malawian ironing out the social and economic problems the country is going through.
Kazako assured that the government would continue its policy of “keeping the doors open for dialogue.”
“We opened our doors for dialogue. We believe in dialogue. If indeed the demonstrations are a mechanism to communicate to us the economic pressure the people are experiencing, dialogue is the denominator of the solutions. We are beginning to suspect that the demonstrations have a different motivation. Fortunately, Malawians are smart and are beginning to realize that it’s beyond what they believed it was,” he said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :