By Faith Kamtambe & Peter Kanjere:
Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) has extended days of vigils, which were scheduled to run only from today to Friday, until President Peter Mutharika returns to Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe from Mzuzu City.
Mutharika is attending to official duties in Mzuzu.
Addressing journalists in Lilongwe Tuesday, Apam President, Overstone Kondowe, said considering that Lilongwe City Council (LCC) has advised the association that vigils cannot take place at the State House or anywhere near a 100-metre radius within its premises as it is a protected area, the concerned people will hold the vigils outside the protected area at a 100-metre radius.
“All the preparations are done. Many members of Apam are coming and let me request companies to support us as we are going to stay, now, for more than three days. The law states that we need to be at a radius of 100 metres away from State House; so, we, alongside the police, are going to agree on where we are going to stay,” he said.
Kondowe also said persons with albinism are ready for the vigils and most of them are on their way to Lilongwe.
Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) Chairperson, Timothy Mtambo, said Mutharika’s journey to Mzuzu was created just to run away from facing the problem.
“We shall be at State House waiting for him to come,” he said.
On Monday, LCC acting Chief Executive Officer, Gensher Mbwabwa, wrote to HRDC and Apam, among other entities, informing them that “Section 103 of the Police Act prohibits assembly or demonstrations within the precincts of State Residents unless authorised by the President. In view of the above provision, the petition shall be delivered to Lilongwe City Council offices at the Civil Centre to the Chief Executive Officer for Lilongwe City Council.”
Last week, Mutharika hosted officials from a breakaway group of persons with albinism called Poor and Concerned People with Albinism (PACPWA) at the State House where he, among other things, dangled K5 million for any persons who will provide leading to masterminds of the attacks on such people.
PACWA also wanted to hold a solidarity march in Lilongwe on March 1 and prayers at Comesa Hall on March 3, but both events did not take place.
PACWA Chairperson, Francis Masambuka, Tuesday said they would announce a new date for the prayers.
“We cancelled our solidarity march because we were satisfied with what the President pledged to do in order to end the attacks. We are just waiting for the implementation of what the President promised. We will not join the vigils because our group is looking at the issue in a sober manner,” he said.
Francis said he was not related to MacDonald Masambuka, a 22-year-old person with albinism who was killed in Machinga District last year.