March of no confidence

 

Some civil society organisations (CSOs) in the country are planning to hold nationwide demonstrations on April 27 in protest against what they  consider lack  of transparency and accountability in government. Our reporter AYAMI MKWANDA spoke with Youth and Society executive director Charles Kajoloweka who is among the organisers of the protests.

Kajoloweka: We have done our part, the rest is for the citizens

Q: What are you doing to convince people to participate in the impending demonstration considering that mass protests have not enjoyed massive turnout lately?

A

: Our role as civil society is to get people forth to express discontent on the current state of organised corruption and impunity. This is a march of no confidence in the current administration. It is up to the citizens of this country to stand up and participate in the struggle against corruption under the current administration. It is our hope that Malawians will come and cast their vote of no confidence on April 27. As organisers, we are doing our best to raise awareness about these demonstrations. We have engaged other interested stakeholders and the citizenry. We have done our part, the rest is for the citizens to do their part.

Q

: Some organisers have cancelled demonstrations at the eleventh hour, thereby disappointing people who might have wanted to march. Are the April 27 demonstrations real or just another sham?

A

: As organisers of these demonstrations, we want to assure that we will make sure they are successfully executed. They will take place no matter what happens. There is no possibility of postponement or cancellation or even reversal. We want Malawians to judge us not by what happened in the past. We are aware that in the past, demos have been cancelled by other actors. In all this, we have learnt a lesson. As civil society, we are not willing to lose any level of confidence and integrity at this point in time. We know Malawians are bitter and frustrated and we need to build confidence in our people. We want Malawians to look at us as a sector that has learnt some lessons. We are learning and getting feedback from the citizens. We will not take their trust for granted. Therefore, we assure Malawians that come April 27,  they will have this space to demonstrate.

 

Q

: What is your take on accusations from some CSOs that your team has no moral ground to hold protests to press government for accountability and transparency when you do not account for your funding

and expenditure as required by the NGO Board?

Q

: That is a ‘you-too fallacy’. By the way, there is no evidence that we are not accountable. Let those critics judge individual institutions, not the whole civil society. Truthfully, there are accountability issues in all sectors, including the civil society. But the fact that there are accountability issues in the civil society does not take away our right to demand accountability from government. So, those arguments are used to distract us from holding government accountable.The fact that government and other citizens are dissatisfied with the civil society on accountability does not replace the demand for accountability from the current administration.

Q

: How are the preparations going on?

A

: We are on top of things and our preparations are going on very well. It is our hope that this vote of no confidence march will yield the most needed results. It is the challenge against the current impunity and organised corruption and also for any future government that people in this country should never be taken for granted.

Q

: Which other stakeholders, apart from Public Affairs Committee(PAC), are in support of the forthcoming demonstration?

A

: We have received overwhelming feedback from other stakeholders. Some of them are not willing to come out in the open, but on that day you will see several interested stakeholders. So be assured that many interested stakeholders will be joining the struggle. It is not about the civil society. It is about the loss of confidence in the current administration. So, we expect more stakeholders to join in come that day.

Q

: The theme of the demonstration is Malawi Should Reclaim Its Destiny. How can Malawians really reclaim their destiny?

A

: It starts with citizens coming up and holding their leaders accountable without any fear or favour. It starts with having citizens highly organised to face their government head on. It is about all interested stakeholders putting hands and standing firm against corruption and impunity. It is not about sitting back and watching a few taking part in the struggle or being experts in giving evaluation on the impact of demonstrations done by others but it is about self evaluation in our participation in the struggle-that what we think should happen. So, we think we will get that space which belongs to us and utilise it effectively. It is really about getting back power to the people.

Q

: What is the progress when it comes to your demands for the Anti-Corruption Bureau to investigate allegations that government bribed some opposition legislators to frustrate electoral reforms in Parliament?

A

: You might have heard that the ACB is currently investigating Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe and Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kondwani Nankhumwa on the K4 billion scam. This confirms our call that the two must pave way for investigations. They cannot continue to hold public office when they are being investigated for corruption. It is a standard principle that when you are being investigated for corruption, you step aside and allow institutions entrusted to undertake such assignments to do their duty. We expect that honourable Gondwe and Nankhumwa will step aside and allow ACB do its duty independently. n

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