‘We’ll meet Bingu on the streets’

By Green Muheya, Nyasa Times

August 17 demonstrations organisers have said they are now cowed by the threats of President Bingu wa Mutharika to crush the protestors, hitting back that they will meet him in the streets.

Mutharika warned on Thursday that he will meet protesters in the streets, as the protest will be a 48-hour vigil characterised by candle lighting.

Addressing a news conference in Blantyre, human rights activist Unandi Banda said they are ready to meet Mutharika on the streets.

“We are exercising our democratic right to demonstrate peacefully and express our concerns,” Banda of  National Elections System Trust (NEST) said.

He said President Mutharika should not threaten any Malawian because he is a servant of the people entrusted with powers to lead the nation.

Organisers for the red army two days August 17 demo: Ready

“He has threatened us on numerous occasions, but he should know that as members of the civil society, we cannot sit back and watch people suffer,” said Banda, one of the people who fought for democracy.

“We are not going to relent or get threatened. We are going to meet on the streets and we will appreciate if he comes in person,” he added.

“The president always says somebody wants to overthrow his government. That’s not the case. His actions will see his downfall if he does not stop and reflect on why people who stood vigil when the opposition gave his government tough time to pass the budget,” Banda said.

“It’s unfortunate our president continues to allow his ego come in the place of reason. We need a leader not a threatening ruler,”  Mrs. Magret Ali, a rights activist also added.

Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) secretary general Robert Mkwezalamba, who is the organisers’ spokesperson,  said organisers  have decided that the protests be held for two days as they wait for a response to the July petition from Mutharika.

Protesters in the Southern Region will gather along Victoria Avenue from 8 am where they will light candles while in Central Region the venue is Kamuzu’s Statue next to Area 18A Filling Station, according to Mkwezalamba.

But Mutharika has threatened that he will not allow another round of nationwide anti-government protests.

“Government will deal with you. I have set up a Presidential Committee on Dialogue and if you have issues, then you can dialogue with this committee, but if not, I will not allow you to organise another demonstration.”

The President argued NGOs have no mandate to run this country because he was duly elected by over 2.9 million voters.

Meanwhile, demand for red attire clothes is high in Malawi as citizens plan to demonstrate wearing red clothes in what is being billed as “red army.”

Civil rights groups want President  Mutharika to explain his personal wealth, address foreign exchange and fuel shortages and reconcile with Britain, which froze aid after a diplomatic spat.

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