Civil society organisations (CSOs) under the banner Human Rights Defenders Coalition have attacked the government for failing to deal with corruption.
The coalition’s national chairperson, Timothy Mtambo, said corruption has become systemic, accusing authorities of being involved in corruption as well as shielding those connected to the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
“Numerous high-profile and prominent cases bordering on corruption have either been ignored or are still dragging in courts. Corruption and fraud suspects, especially those that are close to the regime, have been shielded or their court cases have dragged for years,” he said.
Mtambo said the government is also failing to protect human rights arguing the Non Governmental Organisation Amendment Bill which was to be tabled in Parliament is being pushed to shrink civil society space.
“We once again register our disappointment at attempts by the current regime to muzzle the civic space through draconian laws and death threats to government critics including human rights defenders,” he as quoted in the Daily Times said.
But Minister of Information, who is also the government’s spokesperson, Henry Mussa told the paper that government has the past year made efforts to work with CSO as partners.
Mussa said the government is open to objective criticism and he accused the CSOs of looking at only the negative side while ignoring positives.
“I am not saying the government has been 100 percent perfect: but let us look at the bigger picture. I am not sure what they mean when they say this year has been the worst in terms of governance and other areas. Let us be patriotic.
“Most of these CSOs leaders have become politicians but hide behind CSOs. [Let them]come out and register if they want to become a political party All we are saying is that there should be objective criticism whereby in argument people should be able to get one or two important things,” he said.
Mussa said the CSOs also have a role to play in shaping the country arguing that CSOs and the private sector are involved in corrupt practices.