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Democratic Progressive Party, Civil Society Organisations meeting fails

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The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has cancelled at the eleventh hour the second dialogue meeting with civil society organisations (CSOs) which was scheduled to take place in Lilongwe Friday.

The Daily Times has it on authority that Secretary General (SG) of the party, Greselder Jeffrey, told lawyer for the CSOs, Wesley Mwafulirwa, in a telephone interview yesterday that she is hospitalised and that the meeting has, therefore, been called off.

But the CSOs have said the excuse is lame and that the call for dialogue was a mere public stunt to be seen to be addressing the real issue.

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The meeting was a follow up to the one the two groups had last week, following the DPP’s request for dialogue after the civil rights groups threatened to drag the party to court on allegations that it forced some public institutions and city councils to contribute towards a fundraising event last month.

The CSOs—Youth and Society (YAS), Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) and Church and Society in Livingstonia Synod of the CCAP— have been pressuring the ruling DPP to return the money it got from the institutions.

When called for reaction to the development, YAS Executive Director, Charles Kajoloweka, who has been spearheading the cause, condemned the party for lacking seriousness and taking Malawians for granted.

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He wondered why the DPP is limiting its authority to a particular individual and consequently cancelling what he called a “crucial” meeting.

“In fact, there has been little commitment from the party. For instance, we started following up with them on the meeting on Monday but there has been no response until today [Thursday] when they are saying the SG is hospitalised and that the meeting cannot take place,” Kajoloweka said.

He said the development is an indication that the DPP is not ready to adhere to the resolutions of the previous meeting, which are to furnish the rights’ bodies with names of institutions that contributed towards the Blue Night event and committing to repaying the funds.

“We expected them to respect the dialogue process because they are the ones who asked for it,” Kajoloweka said.

CHRR’s Executive Director, Timo thy Mtambo, s h a r ed Kajoloweka’s sentiments, saying it was clear from the first meeting that the DPP has nothing to offer and that their culture of impunity and propaganda thrives.

“We are discussing this matter with the party and not the SG; even if she was dead, the party would still function. In fact, we gave them this next chance just to show that we believe in dialogue, otherwise we are continuing with our plans of taking them to court,” Mtambo said.

But Vice President of the DPP in the Central Region who were main organisers of the Blue Night event Hetherwick Ntaba said he was not aware of Jeffrey’s sickness.

He, however said if such is the case the party is justified to call off the meeting because the SG is a critical figure in party affairs.

“The SG is a very crucial player in a meeting like this one; so it would not be advisable to have a meeting like that one without a key player like the SG. It’s not a complicated matter. When one is ill, you don’t expect them to do anything,” Ntaba said in a telephone interview yesterday.

During the previous meeting the DPP apologised for offensive remarks against the CSOs, but the issue of the K13.5 million it collected from Blantyre and Mzuzu City councils and the Lilongwe Water Board was differed to the failed meeting.

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