By Thandie Chadzandiyani

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The country’s civil rights watchdog Center for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) insists that will go ahead with planed vigil at the main entrance of parliament building from August 11, 2021 despite Lilongwe City Council (LCC) refusal.

CDEDI says the vigil aimed at forcing Parliament leadership including Clerk Fiona Kalemba, Speaker Catherine Gotani Hara, leader of the house Richard Chimwendo Banda to give tangible answers to the public on the smuggled MK93 billion Loan Autholization Bill.

On Monday, August 9, LCC refused to grant permission to CDEDI to hold a vigil at Parliament Building from Wednesday over the smuggling of the money Bill to Parliament.

The council’s spokesperson Tamala Chafunya said the council had denied CDEDI the permission due to Covid-19 restrictions and security as the country hosts the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit.

But CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa told The Maravi Post on Tuesday that the vigil ahead as planed on Wednesday.

Namiwa hinted that the council has no right to stop the vigil as its citizens rights to demonstrate against any evil deeds.

“The president has to know that this a Democratic nation, such that us citizens have rights and one of them is to hold peaceful demonstrations.

“What the Lilongwe city council has done is to vindicate on what what we have been saying that President Lazarus Chakwera’s Malawi Congress Party (MCP) is a threat to democracy. So we will proceed the vigils up until the president set up a committee, its a no retreat no surrender journey,” dares Namiwa.

In a statement and letters served to Lilongwe City Council and Malawi Police, CDEDI said it panned to hold the vigil until Clerk of Parliament Fiona Kalemba, Speaker of the National Assembly Catherine Gotani Hara, and Leader of the House Richard Chimwendo Banda address issues surrounding the Bill.

“CDEDI’s decision to hold a vigil at the Parliament building, follows an expiry of a 48-hour ultimatum we gave madam Kalemba, honourable Gotani Hara, honourable  Chimwendo Banda, and the Leader of Opposition, honourable Kondwani Nankhumwa, who has since given his side of the story, as per our earlier demands.

“Malawians may wish to recall that the Nation Publications Limited [NPL], reported last week, that the draft piece, No. 22 of 2021, Bank of Baroda [construction of residential houses under the National Housing Project, and various security institutions], Loan Authorisation Bill, allowing the Malawi government to borrow K93 billion, to finance the construction of houses for security agency workers in the country, found its way onto the order paper in the National Assembly, mysteriously,” reads part of the statement signed by the organisation’s executive director Silvester Namiwa.

“In view of this, Cdedi demanded President Dr Lazarus Chakwera to act decisively on the matter, by instituting an independent committee to investigate the scandal and report back to Malawians within 30 days.

“We further demanded   Hon. Gotani-Hara, Hon. Chimwendo Banda, Hon. Nankhumwa, and madam Kalemba, to exonerate themselves,” the statement reads.

Parliament spokesperson Ian Mwenye said they are aware that there is public interest in the matter, but there are also investigations taking place on the Bill; hence, commenting on it would jeopardise investigations.

He said Parliament will only make a statement after investigations.

The money Bill was smuggled to Parliament without following proper processes and knowledge of key stakeholders such as the Attorney General, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Justice.

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