Civil society organisations (CSOs) in the country have criticised Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Jean Kalilani, for wearing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) colours while in the United States of America for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Kalilani wore the colours when welcoming President Peter Mutharika in New York on Saturday.
The move has attracted criticism from members of the general public and CSOs argue the minister’s attire only reflected how the country values politics as opposed to the needs of the people discussed at the forum.
The Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) has said there is need to depoliticise international trips when the President travels.
HRCC Chairperson, Robert Mkwezalamba, said, when the President travels, he represents the whole nation, hence he and his team must avoid wearing party colours.
“It would have made sense if the minister wore a rapper of tourism which could have, at least, sold our nation as opposed to wearing a party uniform as if we [Malawians] are all DPP,” he said.
Centre for Development of People Executive Director, Gift Trapence, said any minister on official duties should be able to separate political party from government official duties.
“The minister was wrong to politicise the UNGA trip as a DPP party function when it is a government function. These are practices that can be managed. We can do better than this,” he said.
However, DPP spokesperson, Francis Kasaila, defended Kalilani, saying, even though they are serving government, they are also members of the party.
“What somebody decides to dress should not occupy our minds; it does not hurt anybody. We know that our colleges [CSOs] probably have too much time, that is why they focus on anything. When you go for a vote, you don’t vote for a government, you vote for a political party into government. Let’s accept that, according to our political system, it is a political party that governs. That’s it,” he said.
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