‘Bingu insensitive to people’s suffering’

Malawians will on Sunday celebrate Christmas with anxiety on how the current fuel, forex and drug crises will pierce them further in 2012 due to President Bingu wa Mutharika’s failure to address the problems, civil society activists have said.

The organisations have further stated that Mutharika is “insensitive” to people’s needs and suffering as he is not subjected to the challenges people are facing.

But presidential spokesperson Dr Hetherwick Ntaba on Friday said the President has already made several comments on the issues the activists are talking about.

Asked if the President will address the nation on the various crises this Christmas, Ntaba said he was not aware adding: “The President does not need to be pushed to address the public during Christmas Eve. [He] speaks whenever he feels like speaking. He does not need to be pushed by activists. Let them not put pressure on the President on these issues.”

In an interview on Thursday, activist Benedicto Kondowe said the “President is being insensitive to the needs and interests of Malawians which, to some extent, departs from the constitutional and moral obligations of a sitting President”

“Government seems not concerned at all that it owes Malawians an explanation on the hardships they are going through. The President has lost touch [with] the reality on the ground.

“He is better off than ordinary Malawians because he doesn’t face fuel shortage or forex crisis. It is not surprising to see the President being silent on the issues,” said Kondowe.

He said government’s failure to abate the worsening economic crisis has devastated many families, adding life has become too expensive for ordinary Malawians.

Another activist, Rafiq Hajat, who heads Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI), suggested that the country holds a referendum to decide whether Mutharika should continue ruling the country because government has failed its people..

“Malawians need to stand up and say enough is enough. Any government rules according to the trust and confidence from its citizens. That trust and confidence is obtained in an election.

“Today, we are saying government has lost mandate and the only way out is a referendum. We cannot continue to 2014 like this otherwise the country will be in utter shambles,” said Hajat.

National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives executive director, Dorothy Ngoma said Mutharika’s team has failed, saying the poor are dying in villages because of shortage of drugs and fuel for ambulances.

“I will not say what we should do but common sense should guide us on what to do,” said Ngoma.

She said as the year is ending, the current situation does not give any hope to Malawians.

“I have never seen anything like this in 35 years of my nursing career where even Panado is not available in hospitals. It has been very bad, especially for poor people because they are the ones who have died.”

The civil society remarks follow Malawi Law Society (MLS) sentiments last week that government is in breach of duty for failing to provide fuel to the public and explain what it is doing to end the crisis.

The year ending has seen Malawians experiencing possibly the worst economic crisis in the country’s history fuelled by the acute shortage of forex due to poor tobacco sales and continued donor freezing of budget support over Mutharika’s poor governance and human rights standing.

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