The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) takes this opportunity to announce that the much awaited peaceful nationwide demonstrations will take place on 27th March, 2019. We at the HRDC have been left with no other option but to mobilise the populace, and hold demonstrations as yet another way in engaging the government of Malawi over a number of unresolved issues of national concern which include the unprecedented levels of corruption, stinking nepotism, the attacks and killings of people with albinism, attempts by powers that be to muzzle the civic space and freedom of speech and press, lawlessness as perpetrated by regime thugs, shameless abuse of the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, reducing the Malawi Police Service to a DPP wing and attempts to kill the gender equality strides that Malawi has made among other concern.
The HRDC has lost trust in the current regime headed by President Peter Mutharika. This is a regime that has more than once demonstrated its incompetency and utter lack of direction in addressing numerous challenges that Malawi is currently facing. It is clear that the regime is out of touch and control, a scenario that has made Malawi to be a ship without a captain.
We have on numerous occasions tried our best to provide alternative policy directions to the current regime on various challenges that Malawi is facing but unfortunately our submissions have either been ridiculed, ignored or partially acknowledged and halfheartedly implemented. We have also, time without number sought audience with his Excellency the State President Peter Mutharika but our requests have never been granted.
We are concerned that the government’s executive arrogance is proving too costly for all Malawians, and as HRDC we cannot afford to just sit back and watch as the country bleeds to death.
While we still have numerous concerns as highlighted earlier in this statement, we would like to take time and emphasis on the following urgent needs that require immediate attention.
- The Killing of persons with albinism
We have failed our brothers and sisters with albinism. As a nation we seem to be clueless on how we can decisively deal with this problem which is escalating every day. Within a short space of time we have witnessed killing of our brother Mr Yasin Phiri in Nkhata Bay, the abduction of 18-months old Eunice in Karonga and the recent abduction of 14- year old Goodson Makanjira, in Dedza District. While every citizen has a duty in protecting persons with albinism, we place the blame on government because it has failed to provide the needed security to our brothers and sisters. Government has failed to move beyond rhetoric and podium promises which is a clear demonstration that the issue is not a priority for reasons best known to them. For example, Malawi has a very progressive strategy on how to protect persons with albinism but it remains unfunded. What is more disheartening is that government can afford to bail out a parastatal with huge sums of money but fail to provide MK3 billion to finance the strategy. We call upon full operationalization of the strategy.
We have questions that need answers; What did the Inspector General of Police learn in his study tour to Tanzania on how to protect people with albinism? Why has the president not funded the plan to protect persons with albinism? Is the role of the National Intelligence Bureau limited to monitoring government critics only? Why can’t we have a special court and prosecutors to hear and prosecute all cases of killings of persons with Albinism just like we have done with cash-gate cases? Why can’t we have special commission of inquiry into these killings? Why can’t we already solicit help from able investigation agencies outside the country if we feel helpless?
President Peter Mutharika should be ashamed of himself for presiding over a country that cannot protect and provide the much need security to her own people. We are disappointed that out of the 152 attacks on persons with Albinism recorded to date, only 44 have been successfully tried and completed.
We at HRDC, in partnership with relevant stakeholders are seriously considering to carry out our independent investigations into this issue as an alternative policy mechanism so that we get to the bottom of who is behind these gruesome murders.
Meanwhile, we endorse and will mobilize our constituents to join the vigil that the Association of People with Albinism (APAM) has organized on 3rd March, 2018.
- Unprecedented level of corruption: Arrest Batawalala and his Cronies on attempting to defraud the Government
President Peter Mutharika shamelessly continues to preside over a government that is stinking rotten with corruption and claims that government is fighting the vice are all cosmetic. It is undeniable that the country is besieged by corruption which continues to rob millions of our people a decent future. We know that Government either arrests small fish in the pond, cripples the Anti-Corruption Bureau from discharging its duties efficiently or drags the corruption cases in courts forever because the spoils of these corrupt deals are shared within the ranks and files of the DPP. These gimmicks are disgusting and cheap.
While we acknowledge and applaud governments stand on the immigration-gate uniform scandal, we question why government is taking forever to effect arrest on Batawalala and his cronies for attempting to defraud government. We need to send a strong message to all those who have sinister motive of defrauding govern by way of swiftly conducting investigations and effecting arrests if need be. We also condemn in strongest terms Batawalala’s attempts to gag the media and stifle media freedom through court orders.
- Report of possible corruption, Fraud and other wrong doing at Escom.
We have come across reliable and credible information that exposes possible cases of corruption, fraud and other wrongdoing at ESCOM. This is in addition to cases that we have been grappling with already such as the 4.2 million litres fuel gate, which as HRDC, we are still pursuing. Currently we are analyzing the information and will be informing the nation very soon. Escom is just one the many parastatals where massive looting and plunder continues to take place. We will be engaging relevant authorities to ensure that those involved are brought to book.
- Security Detail for Hon. Everton Chimulirenji
We are angry at revelation reaching us that government has beefed up security detail to Hon Everton Chimulirenji on the pretext that he is the running mate to president Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party in the forthcoming elections. This is a clear case of abuse of power and resources hence our call for immediate reversal of this arrangement. This is a mockery to Malawians that government can prioritize security of a running-mate at the expense of our brothers and sisters with albinism. This childish or school boy decisions should be rescinded immediately.
- Partisan politics at Malawi Broadcasting Corporation.
We are angry at how the Democratic Progressive Party continues to abuse the MBC for its own political mileage. The partisan politics once again showed its ugly face during the presentation of the presidential nominations papers where MBC did not cover all candidates but Democratic Progressive Party candidates.
We are also very angry at some employee of the Malawi Broadcasting Cooperation for lashing out at a viewer whose only crime was to express his opinion on a live phone-in program whose clip containing this unprofessional and unbecoming conduct has gone viral on social media. This kind of unprofessionalism on the part of the employee has no place in journalism and let alone democratic dispensation. We call upon the management of MBC do discipline the employee.
Through programmes such as Never Again and Ndikati Chete, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) continues to promote hate speech and act as a propaganda wing of the ruling party instead of serving the interests of all Malawians. We continue to press for the opening up of the airwaves to all political players and demand an immediate end of the broadcasting of propaganda.
Additionally, the Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA) also continues to abuse the Communication Act by threatening and censoring media houses that are providing critical checks and balances to Peter Mutharika’s administration while at the same time paying a blind eye to the misconduct of the state broadcaster.
- Demonstration preparation
We take this opportunity to update Malawians that as indicated in our earlier statements, petitions and letter that the preparations for the 27th March 2019 demonstrations are well underway. We are already on the ground mobilizing Malawians in each and every district and community in readiness for national wide demonstrations. Our established structures are now operational in all districts across the country in readiness for mass action.
To this end, we call upon all interested stakeholders across the country including religious and traditional leaders, the media, and civil society organizations to join us in this noble cause.
Lastly, we want to echo our own voice to once again assure Malawians that we will not tire nor be intimidated to speak truth to power. We denounce the Democratic Progressive Party orchestrated executive thieving, corruption, and impunity. We re-register our concern that the DPP led government continue to shamelessly burry its head and remain clueless as to how to address the numerous governance, legal, social, economic and development challenges that Malawians are wallowing in.
Let the countdown to 27th March 2019 begin in earnest!
Timothy Mtambo Gift Trapence Happy Mhango
National HRDC Chair National HRDC Vice Chair Northern Region HRDC Chair
Billy Mayaya Masauko Thawe Madalitso Banda
Central Region HRDC Chair Southern Region HRDC Chair Eastern Region HRDC Chair
Released on Sunday 17th February 2019, in Lilongwe