Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has embarked on citizen rallies aimed at sensitising communities of the need for peaceful demonstrations and getting concerns from the citizenry.
The first citizen rally will take place in Karonga District Thursday ahead of the anti-Justice Jane Ansah protests to be held in ports of entry from August 26 to 30 2019.
HRDC Chairperson, Timothy Mtambo, Tuesday said the citizen rally should not be mistaken for a political rally.
“We would want to raise awareness to make sure that we emphasise to the citizens within the borders that they should be peaceful as they exercise their rights. Secondly, as HRDC, we are developing a citizen manifesto comprising key issues that citizens would want their government to address. So, these issues would be articulated at this engagement,” he said.
Mtambo said their target was to reach out to all border districts of Chitipa, Karonga, Mchinji, Dedza, Mwanza and Mulanje with the message of peace ahead of the demonstrations.
“We have been doing activities such as community awareness campaigns, public awareness meetings sensitisation meetings. The rally is not something new or strange. We have started a bit late but, time permitting, we will reach the other border districts,” he said.
Political commentator George Phiri of the University of Livingstonia said the rally was a welcome development which should have started a while ago.
“Civil society organisations are for the people and if HRDC is engaging the citizens on how to conduct the demonstrations, this is a right move. Secondly, it is also important that the citizens should guide HRDC membership on what they want as citizens. There is need for more of these interactive meetings,” he said.
The coalition has been conducting demonstrations since the announcement of May 21 elections results to force Malawi Electoral Commission Chairperson Jane Ansah to resign.