A High Court Judge in Zomba, Zione Ntaba, has asked Malawians to begin an earnest discussion on minority rights in the country to move forward.
Ntaba said this at Chancellor College in Zomba during the launch of a Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) funded minority rights advocacy moot competition for Chancellor College law students organised by the Paralegal Resource Centre (Parece).
“[In Malawi] history has shown that it is around discussions that great things have happened. Our move from colonialism and our move to democracy [is an example]. The discussion of the whole concept of minority rights, whether racial, tribal, sexual, physical or otherwise, needs to start,” said Ntaba.
She added: “Minority rights are not new phenomena in Malawi and it is good that the discussion of such is coming from the law school.”
Chancellor College’s Dean of Law, Mwiza Nkhata, also called for a rational discussion on minority rights based on the Constitution.
“The discussion on minority rights is emotive and personalised. The tendency is, for example, to reduce the discussion to issues of homosexually, yet minority rights are beyond sexual minority,” Nkhata said.
He said another tendency is for people to bring irrelevant issues, such as religion, into the discussion of minority rights.
Nkhata said Malawi is a secular State; hence, in the discussion of minority rights, the 1994 Malawi Constitution should be the beacon.
Parece’s coordinator Sadie O’Mahoney said the launch of the moot court was important because worldwide, people are subjected to persistent human rights violations through discrimination because of their differences; either based on physical disability, religion, their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.
Cedep’s programmes manager, Rodney Chalira, said Chancellor College has a good record of activism and he hoped that the promotion of a discussion on minority rights will enhance an exchange of ideas on the topic and build an informed nation.