By Richard Chirombo & Faith Kadzanja:
UTM president, Saulos Chilima, Sunday endorsed demonstrations which civil society organisations, under the banner of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), have organised on Thursday.
Chilima said this Sunday , when he held a ‘thank you’ rally at Masintha Ground in Lilongwe.
The former vice-president, who extensively cited the national anthem, especially the stanza that says “that we be free from fear”, said Malawians have a right to demonstrate, so long as they do so without infringing on the rights of others.
“Civil society organisations have organised demonstrations on Thursday. Let us join them [CSOs and demonstrations]. It will be unjustifiable for police to use teargas, which is bought using our taxes, on the demonstrators.
“And there is a tendency to throw MDF [Malawi Defence Force] into the mix when police fail to contain people. MDF is there to protect the citizens of this country and I expect MDF to be on our side,” Chilima said, while pointing at himself.Advertisement
Chilima also called for peace and unity, saying these were catalysts for national development.
He said Malawi had been lagging behind, development-wise, citing failure to realise goals as espoused in Vision 2020, which touts Malawi as a God-fearing country that advances ideals such as sustainable environmental management and the creation of opportunities for all.
“In 2020, which is a year away, we will be evaluating progress made in Vision 2020. I tell you, we have not achieved anything. That is why UTM is there because our goal is to bring smiles to Malawians’ faces.
“This is not the case now and we will not get tired until we meet our goal to bring smiles to citizens’ faces through the establishment of mega farms, promotion of household food security where every Malawian shall have three meals a day, gender equality, among others,” he said.
He added that the country should promote gender balance by appointing a female Speaker of Parliament.
Newly elected members of Parliament are expected to be sworn-in today and tomorrow, to be followed by the election of Speaker of the National Assembly and deputy speakers.
Speaking earlier, UTM vice president Michael Usi said Malawians should demonstrate to express their displeasure at the management of the elections.
“If we accept what has happened now, forget about 2024. If they used Tipp-ex in 2019, expect them to use paint in 2024,” Usi said.
He spoke after party secretary general, Patricia Kaliati, had said the country was “swimming in problems, among them lack of employment opportunities, issues aptly addressed in the UTM manifesto.”
On June 8 this year, HRDC Chairperson Timothy Mtambo and vice Gift Trapence announced that they had organised demonstrations to force Malawi Electoral Commission Chairperson Justice Jane Ansah to resign.
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