The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) have dismissed fellow activists’ criticism of donors over the manner the Salima-Lilongwe Water Project contract was awarded.
In a joint statement, the two institutions argued that there is no need to blame the country’s development partners over delays of the project because the donors were simply seeking “transparency and accountability”.
“As Cedep and CHRR, we wish to point out that the fact that donors have requested government not to flout procedures in the Salima- Lilongwe Water Project does not mean in any way that the donors are undermining the sovereignty of Malawi and advancing neo-colonialism.
“It simply means the donors are concerned with the high levels of corruption in the country and seek to overcome issues of long outstanding abject poverty and, of course, make Malawi a stronger nation. Donors, be it bilateral or multilateral partners in development, will always seek transparency and accountability. As such, they should not be blamed and attacked for doing just that,” reads the statement co-signed by CHRR executive director Timothy Mtambo and his Cedep counterpart Gift Trapence.
Their reaction follows a news conference by three human rights activists—McdonaldSembereka, Billy Mayaya and Rodgers Newa— who attacked donors for allegedly employing double standards in their sentiments on the water project.
In their statement, the trio alleged that donors were simply discouraging Malawi to embark on the project because they are not the ones providing the loans for the project which they in turn would use as leverage for controlling Malawi.
But in his response to an enquiry by The Nation, Edward Monster, public affairs officer at the United States of America Embassy in Lilongwe, dismissed the trio’s accusations as baseless and false just as they were “completely unsupported by any evidence”.
The donors are among stakeholders who have been demanding for a feasibility study before the Salima-Lilongwe Water Project commences apart from raising eyebrows on how the contract was awarded to Khato Civils, a business owned by a South Africa-based Malawian, using a closed tender and without the requirement for competitive bidding.
Cedep and CHRR have since defended the donors, saying there is need for a feasibility study before the work commences just as there is need for Malawi to follow its own procurement procedures.
According to the two organisations, corruption is the reason Malawi has not made strides in development, arguing that if anybody needs evidence to support the assertions on the evils of cutting corners then they should look no further than the Maizegate.