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CSOs rebuff Peter Mutharika’s committee

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Organisers of the April 27 nationwide anti-government protests have rebuffed a special committee appointed by President Peter Mutharika to look into the grievances that were raised in their petition.

One of the organisers, Timothy Mtambo who heads Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, said yesterday that committees have never yielded anything.

“We petitioned the President and if we are to follow up, we will do so with the person that we addressed. We did not petition the so-called committee, which we are just hearing about in the media,” he said.

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He said the issues raised during the protests cannot be resolved by meetings since they have been around for some time but the government has chosen to ignore them at the expense of the public interest.

Last week, Presidential Press Secretary Mgeme Kalilani announced the formation of a committee appointed by the President to look into the petition. Mgeme said Chief Secretary Lloyd Muhara was going to lead the committee.

“For instance, what will we be discussing with the committee on the brutal murders of Robert Chasowa and Issa Njaunju? Is it not just about government speeding the wheels of justice in the cases?” he queried.

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But Muhara Sunday said he was not aware of the existence of the committee when contacted to comment.

“When was it appointed? I have not been communicated [to] formally, so can I come back to you; let me check,” he said.

Muhara’s ignorance of the committee surprised Mtambo. He said it shows that the government is not serious.

The timeframe for Mutharika to replace Rodney Jose as acting Inspector General of Police has elapsed, after he was given 10 days from April 27 to make the change.

Last week, social commentator Rafiq Hajat raised fear that news about the committee could be a deliberate move by the government to hoodwink Malawians into believing that something was being done to address their problems.

The organisers also want the President to halt the K4 billion payout to lawmakers, apart from demanding that Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe and Local Government and Rural Development Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa should be sacked in connection with the payout.

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