After claiming that the April 27 2018 demonstrations were aimed at making Malawi ungovernable, and condemning its organisers, President Peter Mutharika has appointed a committee to look into the grievances raised in the petition on the day.
According to presidential press secretary Mgeme Kalilani, the special committee is being headed by Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet Lloyd Muhara.
In an interview yesterday, Kalilani confirmed that the petition reached the office of the President and Cabinet and that Mutharika has acted on it.
He said: “There is good progress. In short, the President has set up a committee headed by the Chief Secretary which is looking at the issues raised in detail, getting in touch with relevant government departments, other stakeholders and the Presidency for direction on the issues.”
Kalilani said some of the issues raised in the petition, such as the recruitment of civil servants, has been implemented.
Asked who the other members of the committee were and the terms of reference for the same, Kalilani referred the reporter to Muhara, who could not be reached on his phone.
However, one of the leaders of the civil society organisations (CSOs) that organised the protests, Gift Trapence of Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), said they have not received any word from government since delivering the petition.
“What matters to us is that the issues are resolved and their time frame. However, being an office of protocol, we expect an official response from the President’s office,” he said.
Meawnhile, policy and governance analyst Rafiq Hajat has hailed Mutharika’s move with caution, warning that the committee must not be used to hoodwink Malawians.
He said: “The next few months will be the litmus test of how serious this government really is in tackling issues that are of concern to the populace, the electorate,” he said.
In their 10-point petition, the CSOs had given Mutharika up to 90 days to deal with the issues raised or leave his office.