By Alick Mhango

Malawi quasi-religious group Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has endorsed anti-government protests organised by civil society organisations (CSOs) set for September 7 2018.

PAC said after its board meeting held in Blantyre on Tuesday that it supports the view to hold “peaceful demonstrations” when all local remedies to influence change have been exhausted.

The governance watchdog said should the nationwide demonstrations proceed as planned , Malawians should “exercise their rights [to demonstrate] peacefully.”

In a communiqué signed by the body’ chairperson and spokesman Reverend Felix Chingota and Fr Peter Mulomole respectively said holding peaceful demonstrations falls within people’s democratic rights and as such the body supports the arrangement.

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chairperson Timothy Mtambo and his deputy Gift Trapence, have said among the issues to be raised in the upcoming demonstration is government’s failure to address worsening corruption in the country.

“We have noted wanton abuse of statutory corporations as evidenced by theft of fuel worth K1.9 billion at Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi [Escom] under the watch of government. The development has paralysed the effectiveness and efficiency of the institution.

“Among the new demands we will be making is the call for Anti-Corruption Bureau director-general Reyneck Matemba’s resignation, immediate suspension of the con-tract for the supply of gensets and an immediate stop of nepotism in government appointments…”

Meanwhile, main opposition MCP has said it is encouraging its supporters to take back in the anti-government protests.

MCP secretary general Elsenhower Mkaka said the CSOs issues are “genuine”.

He said: “MCP is committed to ending corruption, violence and impunity as such it will work and support any stakeholder who is committed to the same cause.”

Mkaka said MCP “endorses and supports the voice of reason from CSOs”.

MCP spokesman said their party supporters and all other Malawians “who feek the pinch of this maladministration to turn up in large numbers.

HRDC has organised the protests after expressing reservations with the Executive’s response to its 10-point petition delivered during the April 27 2018 demonstrations. The grouping rated government’s response at 10 percent.

In the April 27 petition, the HRDC demanded that President Peter Mutharika should cancel the appointment of Rodney Jose as Inspector General of Police and wanted the Electoral Reforms Bills to be re-tabled in Parliament in their original form as recommended by the Law Commission.

They also demanded cancellation of the K4 billion payout to parliamentarians, resignations or firing of Cabinet ministers Goodall Gondwe (Finance and Economic Planning) and Kondwani Nakhumwa (Local Government and Rural Development) for their role in the payout, and for the Anti-Corruption Bureau to investigate the payout.

Government responded to the petition on July 19 2018 by refusing to give in to most of the CSOs’ demands.

On the CSOs’ demand for government to re-table in Parliament the Electoral Reforms Bills in their original forms, government, in its response said the demand undermined constitutional order and democratic system since various players take different roles in the legislative process.

Capital Hill also argued that it would be ‘absurd’ to expect Cabinet to adopt Law Commission recommendations wholesale and present them as government Bills to Parliament without scrutiny.

On the controversial K4 billion payout to legislators, Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet Lloyd Muhara, who signed the response, rebuffed the CSOs’ request for government to cancel the fund, telling them to present their concerns to Speaker of the National Assembly because the money was duly approved by Parliament.

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