By Chimwemwe Mangazi:
Civil society organisations (CSOs) under the banner of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) have given President Peter Mutharika 20 days to respond to issues they raised during demonstrations held last year failing which they will organise nationwide mass protests in March.
The CSOs led by Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation Executive Director Timothy Mtambo and Centre for the Development of People Executive Director Gift Trapence made the announcement during a press briefing in Lilongwe Friday.
They are citing corruption, killings and abductions of people with albinism, political violence, freeing Malawi Broadcasting Corporation and Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority and they also are speaking in support of the Interest Capping Bill.
“We had demonstrations in April as well as in September last year, there are a number of issues that we raised in a petition, so we are telling the President to respond within 20 days, if he will not, we are ready to hold demonstrations in all districts in Malawi,” Trapence said.
Mtambo added that people have lost confidence in Mutharika and his government.
“We are tired of people sleeping on duty, we are tired with a sleeping government when people are being beaten and women are being harassed, we have a leadership that is promoting impunity and corruption.
“We have always talked about corruption in the two petitions we submitted nothing has been addressed so things have been moving from one crisis to another. DPP [Democratic Progressive Party] cadets have started hunting citizens of this country because they affiliate to a different political party, we say enough is enough and that must stop,” Mtambo said.
After the CSOs held demonstrations on September 21 last year, Mutharika condemned the protest saying the country needs contact and dialogue and not demonstrations.
The President said he had set up a dialogue committee to meet the CSO leaders on their concerns and did not understand why they went ahead with the demonstrations.
However, the CSOs declined to meet the committee but wanted an audience with the President himself.
During the press conference, they indicated that Mutharika has been dodging to meet them.
Presidential Press Secretary Mgeme Kalilani did not pick our call when we tried to reach him.