Malawi CSO’s At It Again
By Simon Banda
The organisations which are particularly from the northern part of Malawi and composed of the usual suspects ,Forum for New Direction (FOND), Youth Watch Society, Renaissance Solutions Centre and Church and CCAP Synod of Livingstonia issued the warning when they addressed journalist in Mzuzu on Wednesday.
John Chawinga who is Youth Watch Society executive director promised to meet leaders of NGO’s from other regions to organize the national wide campaign against government.
They demand the Restoration of rule of law, safety and security of Human Rights Defenders in Malawi. According to Chawinga “Malawi is plunging into brutal tyranny because there is too much focus on power other than the use of that power for the common good” he said.
The civil society’s announcement is said to be a reaction to the dramatic arrest and release of prominent lawyer ralph Kasambara who is also from the same region. Mr Kasambara was detained for one week despite getting court bail which government said was obtained illegally and procedures were flawed as the judiciary in the country is on strike .However Mr Kasambara was released on Wednesday on health grounds as he is at Mwaiwathu private hospital. This development angered most of the civil society leaders who are also his friends and vocally demanded he release and claimed that the arrest was politically motivated.
According to government through minister of Justice and constitutional affairs Ephriam Chiume, told parliament on Wednesday that Mr kasambara will face four counts of abduction, unlawful wounding,causing grievous harm, and assult.
Soon after the 2009 general election Some of the civil society members, have been protesting against government on all fronts from economic reforms to bills passed in parliament, the abuse and deteriorating of human rights in the country. But the ruling party DPP have been criticising them as being a stabling block to economic development in the country by acting like a political grouping.
The NGO’s made their announcement despite Malawi’s opposition political parties resolving to meet President Bingu wa Mutharika and the donor community in an attempt to discuss and offer solutions to the current economic and political crises rocking the country.
The resolutions were made at a meeting held in Blantyre on Monday which was chaired by president of People’s Progressive Movement, Mark Katsonga-Phiri.
The parties involved, according to Katsonga, are MCP, UDF, PP, PPM, Petra, Mafunde, MDP, CODE and NRP.
Malawi has been facing acute forex shortages and fuel which has been blamed on zero deficit budget and bad international relationship the country has with donors in particular who froze aid because of human rights issues that was triggered by the civil society who went on a camping advocating for sanctions.
Government has however blamed the civil society’s role in all this calamity, saying they misrepresent information just to get funding for their respective organisations.
President Bingu Wa mutharika said they just want to please their bosses in Washington without thinking of poor Malawians who he has a job to protect under the constitution.
The civil society economic demands include,to abandon the zero deficit budget, devalue the Malawi kwacha which echoes the IMF and DFID’s demands.
However Malawi’s top economic experts including Mathews Chikaonda have backed the zero deficit concept saying its a good route for Malawi to embark on in oder to gain economic independence after 48 years of political independence , but needs partners for it to be successful.
President Bingu wa Mutharika told the nation to give him three years to solve the economic problems Malawi is facing, but to many that may look too long.