It is now common knowledge that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are firmly set to hold demonstrations, Friday, to express their displeasure with how government is handling some issues in the country.
We wish to appreciate that issues of demonstrations are clearly provided for in the country’s Constitution. Section 38 of the Constitution states: every person shall have the right to assemble and demonstrate with others peacefully and unarmed.
But the catch word is that the protestors must be peaceful and unarmed.
This is the reason we agree with a call made by Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president, Lazarus Chakwera, that the demonstration should be conducted in a peaceful manner.
Already plans of the demonstrations have sent jitters within the establishment. Government has unleashed its machinery, including traditional leaders to thwart attempts by citizens to hold the protests.
Understandably, some demonstrations in the past ended on a bad note, including loss of lives. But that should not be a measure of how competent Malawians are at holding peaceful demonstrations. Government has been to blame in the past for the protests that went the wrong way.
Already, we see some operatives trying to counter the demonstrations by indulging in propaganda. They want to whip up emotions and scare Malawians that there will be scenes of violence during the demonstrations.
This is strange because there is nothing new that the activists are raising. Malawians have been complaining about these issues for the past four years. Malawians are long suffering and for them to pour into the streets, means that the government is failing to tame its excesses.
We expect that every stakeholder, including the Malawi Police Service, will play their part to ensure that lives and property are not lost during the demonstrations.
We also remind the organisers to make sure that they control the demonstrators and stop anyone who might want to capitalise on the demonstrations for selfish or criminal acts.
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