HRDC presses Peter Mutharika on petition


By Audrey Kapalamula:

Civil society organisations (CSOs) under the banner of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) have expressed disappointment over President Peter Mutharika’s failure to acknowledge receipt of the petition they delivered during the September 21 demonstrations.

In a follow-up letter to Mutharika, dated October 14 2018, the coalition accuses him of being sarcastic for failing to respond to their petition despite returning from the United Nations General Assembly (Unga).


“Our expectation was that upon your return from overseas, your office should have officially communicated receipt of the said petition and responded to the demands accordingly. You chose to be sarcastic and, at length, ridiculed bonafide citizens who expressed dissatisfaction against poor governance by your administration,” reads the letter

The letter, which coalition chairperson Timothy Mtambo has signed, emphasises the need for Mutharika to respond to the petition, arguing that issues raised are pertinent.

Mtambo also accuses Mutharika of hiding behind what he calls manipulative dialogue instead of acting on their concerns.


“Having noted that you have chosen to be sarcastic about Malawians who took to the streets, it is our considered opinion that your office has a condescending view of the issues outlined in the petition. It is just a humble reminder that you are still accountable to Malawians, hence the need for you to respond to the same,” the letter adds.

The coalition has since given Mutharika 30 days to respond to concerns raised in the petition.

State House Press Secretary, Mgeme Kalilani, said he needed to follow up with Chief Secretary to the Government, Lloyd Muhara, who handles such communications.

“I will have to check with Chief Secretary if the petition reached his office and [whether] he forwarded it to the President,” he said.

The September petition wanted Mutharika to address issues of 4.2 million theft of diesel at Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi, the K145 million scam involving Malawi Police Service officers, the murders of Anti- Corruption Bureau director of administration Issa Njaunju, The Polytechnic engineering student Robert Chasowa and the abuse of parastatals.

On arrival from the United States on Monday last week, Mutharika told reporters at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe that the low turnout during the demonstrations was a sign that Malawians wanted dialogue.

He said he was happy that the demonstrations “flopped”.

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