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We really need national dialogue

The call for national dialogue on capital punishment by President Peter Mutharika, after the brutal killings of persons with albinism, is a sobering realisation that the blame game just portends doom for the nation.

A nation cannot thrive on hatred and mistrust. It cannot progress through ceaseless politicking while our brothers and sisters are being hunted like animals and have a price tag on them.

Not when consumer prices are soaring, the economy is tanking and unemployment is rising. The government, Association of Persons with Albinism and other interest groups must chart a common path for the country.

The country is beset with challenges that must be confronted head-on.

The governance structure we created under our Constitution is attractive on paper but the reality is dawning that it is exclusionary because it has created a lot of disenchantment among our brothers and sisters

We need to find common ground because the grandstanding and shadow-boxing will not resolve anything and will not help end the terrorist acts against persons with albinism..

However, calls for dialogue are amorphous. The nature of the dialogue is undefined. So we ask the government to first define the dialogue, examine the role of civil society, police and, of course, examine the role that the Judiciary has played so far.

That is why we reinforce the call for dialogue, but one that is structured, honest and result-driven. Importantly, not one that would exclude persons with albinism and other interested groups.

We need to broaden the discussion on capital punishment and see global trends and map an informed way forward. There are several scholars that argue that the death penalty cannot help stop criminal activities out there.

In Malawi, the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation and the Centre for the Development of People are on record to have said capital punishment has failed to work as a deterrent to crimes. Of course, we know that some organisations speak out after getting donor funding.

We know that Information Minister Nicholas Dausi’s comments, blaming donors on capital punishment, are misguided because it is not true that anyone can prevent the government, through the Judiciary, from enforcing the death penalty.

The courts can give stiffer penalties up to life imprisonment.

This is a crisis. As such, stakeholders, including the justice sector, should be engaged to make sure that the penalties we are giving should deter people from committing crimes.

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