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CSOs plan K4 billion demonstrations

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Human rights activists Tuesday announced countrywide protests, next month, against the K4 billion payout to Members of Parliament (MPs) and to force Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe and his counterpart Kondwani Nankhumwa to resign from the Cabinet.

The two ministers are accused of orchestrating the payout without Parliament’s approval to 86 legislators who supported the ruling party in Parliament, last year, to reject six electoral reforms bills

According to a statement released Tuesday and signed by 10 individual activists, the decision to proceed with the demonstrations on April 27 follows the inconsistencies, illegality and a cloud of suspicions that have characterised the entire process of the infamous K4 billion largesse.

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“Should the public still trust a ‘crooked and thieving’ government? Should Malawians continue to be taken for granted? Is the taxpayers’ money safe in the hands of ‘a crooked and thieving’ government?” reads the statement

The rights groups also want the disbursement of the K4 billion to be cancelled and the Anti-Corruption Bureau to investigate what they describe as a “bribe” to MPs.

“The two [Gondwe and Nankhumwa] must, besides, being investigated by the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) in relation to the allegations that the initial criteria for disbursing the K4 billion funds to 86 constituencies was based on rewarding those who rejected the electoral reforms including 50%+1 electoral system for electing the President, be fired by the president,” reads the statement in part.

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The planned protests come after the CSO representatives and Gondwe failed to reach consensus last week.

Gondwe insists he did nothing wrong and, therefore, cannot resign.

Some of the activists that have called for demonstrations are Gift Trapence, Robert Phiri, Timothy Mtambo, Billy Mayaya and Charles Kajoloweka among others.

Meanwhile, presidential adviser on CSOs, Mabvuto Bamusi, has described the demonstrations as anti-development.

“We are not surprised as government that the CSOs want to demonstrate even though the Minister of Finance ably explained circumstances surrounding the K4 billion. It appeared that after the meeting (with the minister), they did not want to change their minds. So I will describe the demonstrations as anti-development,” he said.

Bamusi further said the CSOs are only pushing their personal agenda in the demonstrations.

“They are just trying to force this to appear as if people have asked them to do that, but they are only pushing their personal agenda. We are convinced that K4 billion is not an issue worth demonstrations. However, we, as DPP [Democratic Progressive Party], believe in upholding and protecting rights of every citizen, they can go on,” he said.

People’s Party and some Malawi Congress Party MPs either absconded or voted against the Electoral Commission (Amendment), Elections Management Fund, Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections, a crucial bill seeking to change the electoral system from first-past-the-post to 50%+1 system.

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