Some civil society organisations have asked President Peter Mutharika to step down following what they called his failure to take charge of the country’s affairs.
The activists made their demands in a statement they issued at a media briefing in Lilongwe yesterday.
“We, however, genuinely feel the President is honourable enough to consider stepping down if he keeps failing Malawians. Together, let’s build a better Malawi,” the CSOs said.
The statement has been signed by Timothy Mtambo of the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Gift Trapence of Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), Billy Mayaya, a civil rights activist, Benedicto Kondowe of the Human Rights Defenders Forum, Kiko Mapunda of the Centre for Governance and Public Participation and Martha Kwataine, a health rights activist.
The others are: Moses Mkandawire From the Civil and Political Space Platform, Charles Kajoloweka of the Youth and Society, Desmond Mhango of Centre for Youth and Children’s Affairs (Ceyca) and Bright Kampaundi from Forum for National Development.
But Presidential Press Secretary, Gerald Viola, has since scoffed at the CSOs, saying Mutharika cannot resign and that CSOs should form a political party and contest in the 2019 general elections.
“He was mandated and elected by the majority of Malawians during the 2014 elections. If they are calling for the resignation of the President, who do they think will take over? Timothy Mtambo?” queried Viola.
He also attacked the CSOs by saying the public trust they claim to have been lost is merely the figment of their imaginations.
“They are not representing Malawi. They are representing themselves and those that sponsor them. If they are representing Malawians, let them wait for Malawians to vote Mutharika out of office in 2019 if the people have really lost trust in Mutharika,” Viola insisted.
Of late, the CSOs say they have witnessed with alarm large-scale challenges such as water and electricity crises, ills in the education and health sectors and a cloud of uncertainty over Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) in the agriculture sector.
“We have also seen a country fast receding into an old-age political and economic malaise: A country where pursuit of corrupt cases alias cash-gate is highly skewed towards offering immunity to those in power while coming the hardest on the weak,” the CSOs state.
The activists describe the country as one where the Head of
State lives in extravagance while preaching frugality and where the cold-blooded murder of a senior Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) official is met with an indifferent and cursory reaction from government.
They further say that those in power champion a bullying culture towards the growth of a vibrant and independent media and one where the recommendations from a commission of inquiry are applied for the sake of political correctitude; not safeguarding the Constitution.
The activists assert that the issue related to the bloated entourage that accompanied the President to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) exemplifies the sheer lack of transparency and accountability for the actions of Mutharika’s government.
“His spirited and emotional defence and explanation of what transpired is unsatisfactory and a mockery to the citizenry. As an elected leader, the President has continued to show lack of leadership in steering the nation from the brink of collapse. The incumbent continues to deviate from his oath to commit to increasingly improve the political, economic, social status of Malawians,” the CSOs claim.
They further accuse the President of failing to provide a vision of what Malawi can become and a mission of which direction the country has to go in order to reverse it from its current state.
They further claim that they are greatly disturbed to note that, instead of providing a roadmap for the country’s development, the President is wasting time and resources creating a siege mentality, almost turning himself into an untouchable President.
“The claim that he joined politics to liberate Malawians and he does not need his employer’s money is but a very demeaning statement to have come from the President. We believe that Malawians do not need to be told whether the President was a millionaire before joining the race for Presidency for they exactly know the truth, and have vivid answers in their hearts,” the statement states.
The CSOs also want the President to revise the Decent and Affordable Housing Subsidy Programme budget and put more resources to critical sectors such as education and health.
“The Government’s continued prioritization of the said programme at the expense of education and health sectors is but lack of decisiveness where political interests triumph over the general good of the nation,” the CSOs say.
They also want government to reduce the newly introduced exorbitant and prohibitive fees in the education sector.
Government, they say, should ensure that the Public Service Reforms are periodically scrutinized by Parliament to improve the programme delivery and ensure that reforms reflect the views and wishes of Malawians.
But Viola said some of the issues they are raising are those that the President and government have engaged by way of a process and a process is a slow movement.
“At the moment, the President is busy with the reforms looking at all sectors of governance. The issue of travel and economy are intertwined. The President is trying to woo investors back to Malawi and he cannot just sit in the office,” argued Viola.
He said there was a time when the President was busy in office and the people were saying Malawi had no President.
“Now the President is saying let me bring back the economy you can see the kwacha is now appreciating. Now the President is moving up and down so that instead of struggling with the currency, it stands against other international currencies and they are saying don’t go out. What exactly do they want?” Viola said.