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Activists accept talks over K4 billion

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Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have accepted a request by Minister of Finance, Goodall Gondwe, for a round table discussion over the suspicious K4 billion payout intended for Members of Parliament (MPs).

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Gondwe asked for dialogue in a letter written on Monday following pressure from the rights activists on President Peter Mutharika to fire Gondwe alongside Minister of Local Government Kondwani Nankhumwa.

The CSOs comprise Centre for the Development of People, Youth and Society and Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation.

In a letter by the three, CSOs have, however, reiterated the need to safeguard the best interest of Malawians throughout the deliberations.

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“We hope that this meeting will be genuine and founded on principles of mutual trust and respect and, more importantly, that the best interest of Malawians shall prevail,” reads the letter in part.

They have further proposed a number of changes to the logistics earlier proposed by Gondwe.

“…kindly reconsider that the meeting be convened on Friday, March 16 2018, at 10:00am. This is due to unavailability of our team on the requested date, March 14 2018, as our members h a v e equally important commitments to attend to on this day,” the letter adds.

The group has raised concern that the 24-hour notice which Gondwe gave them was not enough to accommodate the meeting which, they say, is important.

They have also demanded that the meeting takes place at a neutral venue to be agreed upon by the parties.

Asked on composition of his delegation, Gondwe said: “I don’t want to talk about that.”

Government spokesperson, Nicholas Dausi, asked for more time to gather details about the pending discussions.

Following revelations that the government, through the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, had set aside about K3.2 billion to be given to 86 MPs most of whom voted against Electoral Reforms [Amendment] Bills in the just ended meeting of Parliament, there has been growing suspicion that the fund was politically motivated.

After few days of deliberations, all MPs in Parliament agreed to share the money for development in their constituencies, a move which has attracted criticism from various quarters.

The rights groups recently threatened to commence legal action against the government and hold peaceful protests nationwide.

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