The future of influential rights group, the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), hangs in the balance following the appointment of some key members of the grouping to diplomatic missions by the Tonse Alliance-led administration.
Members of the HRDC— including National Coordinator Luke Tembo, Reverend MacDonald Sembereka, Billy Mayaya and Happy Mhango— were spotted among the over 50 newly appointed diplomats attending an orientation workshop at the Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe on Wednesday and Thursday.
HRDC Chairperson Gift Trapence admitted that he had received news on the deployment of some of his fellow members to serve as emissaries in Malawian foreign missions across the world.
He was, however, quick to note that the agenda and mission of HRDC remained unchanged and that the organisation remains steadfast in its quest to hold the government to account.
Trapence said HRDC is a people-centric organisation whose membership is voluntarily derived from individuals and organisations that have the welfare of the people of Malawi at heart.
“HRDC is a voluntary organisation made up of individuals who hold divergent views and interests. As a law-abiding organisation, HRDC believes that the right to make a choice is alienable. People have individual choices in life and we, as HRDC, cannot stop members from making life choices. We can only respect those choices.
“Because we are a voluntary organisation, HRDC is a revolving door that allows members to exercise their right to leave when it is time to do so. And, in so doing, the door opens for other equally skilled members to pick up the mantle. HRDC is bigger than individuals and the organisation has clear transitional structures and processes, including transitional procedures,” Trapence said.
Speaking on Wednesday when he opened the workshop, Foreign Affairs Minister Eisenhower Mkaka has asked newly-appointed diplomats to improve Malawi’s relations with countries they have been sent to.
“The objective of this orientation programme is to provide you with functional information to prepare you for your career as diplomats and representatives of the Malawi Government abroad,” he said.
Areas covered included information on the posting process, conditions of service in the Malawi Foreign Service, protocol and etiquette issues, government policies related to diplomatic service procedures and priorities.