Some civil rights activists have taken a swipe at the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB), saying the government institution is only bent at championing propaganda using taxpayer’s money.
The activists, under the newly launched umbrella body called Citizen Forum for the Defence of Good Governance, said this at a press briefing in Lilongwe yesterday, where the group was also officially unveiled.
Ironically, the launch of the group comes barely days after a report purportedly by NIB indicated that some CSOs and political leaders have been funded to destabilize the country.
But chairperson of the group, Gift Trapence, who is also Executive Director of Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), told journalists that NIB is not doing any professional work but rather wasting poor taxpayer’s money by spreading cheap propaganda.
Said Trapence: “If indeed what they are alleging is true, why can’t they come and arrest us because it is treasonous. If they have evidence, let them prove it. NIB is just a gangster institution that is wasting taxpayer’s money. We can’t allow such propaganda to continue. The country is going through economic challenges and what this administration is doing is just to divert attention.”
Trapence also took time to defend the formation of the group, arguing that it is in good faith.
“The purpose is to create a social accountability movement which will stand up to safeguard democratic and good governance principles and observance and respect for human rights as well as adherence to the rule of law in the country. We want to strengthen collaboration and voice of Malawian citizens to be able to seize their democratic space and hold their duty bearers accountable,” he said.
Dorothy Ngoma, an activist who was also mentioned as one of the beneficiaries, trashed the NIB report, saying it’s only meant to silence critics.
Said Ngoma: “If it were true, then I could have been in prison by now or worse six deep underground. Even Peter Mutharika knows this is not true. These people (at NIB) are not telling the President the truth. At my age, I cannot be told to shut up because of K5 million, maybe K500 million, but even if I were given that money, I would use it to scream more.”
Some of the issues raised by the activists during the briefing included a call to government to revise the Decent and Affordable Housing Subsidy Programme budget and put more resources to critical sectors such as education and health.
The CSOs have also demanded that government should publish names of delegates to the United Nations General Assembly and the total expenditure of the trip as well as immediately take measures to employ health workers and graduate teachers to ease service delivery challenges in the health and education sectors.
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