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Civil society tears into government

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Centre for Development of People (Cedep) and Centre for Human Right and Rehabilitation (CHRR) have questioned the performance of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led government saying government’s failure to deliver is tantamount to violating the human rights of the citizens.

The two human rights organisations have also told the government to stop “fooling” Malawians on the 2009- 2011 audit report by simply making it public and commence prosecution of all those named.

Cedep Executive Director, Gift Trapence, and his CHRR counterpart, Timothy Mtambo, on Wednesday released a statement which accuses government of using selective approach to tackling corruption or cashgate, politicising operations of governance institutions and using threats to human rights defenders.

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In the statement, Trapence and Mtambo also tackle issues of persistent water shortages and electricity blackouts, the collapsing economy amidst continued wastage, government’s failure to respond to issues that Public Affairs Committee (Pac) and the Catholic Bishops raised and the government’s attempt to stifle and discredit operations of non-governmental organisations.

Cedep and CHRR say that they are “alarmed by the country’s mounting leadership crisis, cognisant of constitutional role of government and shocked by the senselessly and stubbornly persistent investment in empty DPP officials’ propaganda on state-run media to trivialise the country’s festering crisis.”

“We, at Cedep and CHRR have noted with dismay serious challenges Malawians are going through; resulting into systematic violation of their human rights enshrined in the Constitution and notable international human rights instruments the country is party to.

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“It is particularly disconcerting to note that most of the challenges the country is going through are emanating from leadership naivety, lack of patriotism, compromised integrity as well as glorification of political expediency at the cost of nation-good on the part of the DPP-led government,” the statement reads.

The two organisations then reminded the government that the primary role of every government is to protect its citizens and the President and the cabinet took an oath to protect and defend the Republican Constitution where human rights and good governance are enshrined.

“We wish to call upon Malawians that it is within their democratic power to demand good governance and development from government. At this moment when leadership crisis in the country keeps gathering, Malawians must refuse to be target of cheap government propaganda that the country is now better off than before this DPP government assumed leadership in 2014.

“Malawians must realise that a better Malawi is only possible if they come together and look beyond pettiness such as political affiliation, tribe, region and religion, and collectively stand up and demand fulfillment of the human rights and good governance in the country,” they said.

They then demanded the immediate de-politicisation of the utility companies so that they can ably carry out their duties.

“Statutory bodies such as Escom and water boards should not be taken as gravy trains to fund the activities of the ruling party. We believe that, if depoliticised, these institutions can rise up to the challenges facing them. Otherwise, solutions to electricity and water woes are within reach,” the statement continues.

Cedep and CHRR also say they are deeply concerned about the growing politicisation of the governance institutions in the country.

These institutions include, the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Accountant General, the Auditor General, and National Intelligence Bureau.

“It is now an open secret that these governance institutions have become a governance curse, due to government’s inordinate interference in their operations. The professional childishness of these institutions especially in wake of the recent audit report bespeaks of the unnecessary political arm-twisting at play.

“This is a huge disservice to tax-payers who fund these institutions. It is a shame that heads of these institutions are at times behaving like ruling party spokespersons when in actual sense, they are supposed to be accountable to Malawians,” Trapence and Mtambo said.

But government Spokesperson, Malison Ndau, said everyone has a right to say what they want and government remains open to citizens who have constructive criticism.

“If they have issues, they should come forward and present their grievances to H.E [His Excellency President Peter Mutharika] and the government and see how we can move forward together. That’s being constructive,” Ndau said.

He said government critics may have their own agenda.

“It is just like a mountain in which some people who are looking at from the other side may not be able to see what people on the side are able to see. They know the genesis of some of the challenges that we are facing and what the government is doing,” he said

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