- Says they are on a ‘mission to destabilise’ govt
- President is confused —Mtambo
President Peter Mutharika has accused the international donor community of trying to recolonise Malawi by sponsoring some civil society organisatios (CSOs) to destabilise his government.
The President said this at a mini-rally held at Mzuzu Shoprite Roundabout upon arrival in the city on Thursday.
Mutharika claimed he is aware of how money is changing hands between members of the donor community and some CSOs he did not mention.
The accusations come at a time when the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has written the European Parliament and the international community to freeze Mutharika’s foreign bank accounts until the country’s graft-busting body the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) concludes investigations into the K145 million Malawi Police Service (MPS) food ration scandal.
The grouping has also given Mutharika 14 days to resign for allegedly benefitting from the alleged MPS fraud.
The HRDC on April 27 2018 also gave Mutharika 90 days to deal with the country’s socio-economic and governance challenges, or face nationwide protests.
But, in separate written responses yesterday, US ambassador Virginia Palmer and British High Commissioner Holly Tett defended the right of civil society in the country.
Wrote Palmer: “I am proud of the long-standing, strong bilateral relationship between the United States and Malawi. Our governments coordinate closely to meet Malawi’s development goals. Civil society organisations complement these efforts by holding governments and development partners accountable and addressing challenges that governments cannot tackle alone.
“We appreciate Malawi’s continued support for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights, which enshrine the right of civil society to participate fully in social, economic and political life.”
On her part, Tett also avoided direct reference to Mutharika’s remarks, but provided a diplomatic backing to the civil society.
“The UK has a strong and warm relationship with Malawi, and remains committed to a long-term partnership to help the country accelerate economic growth and reduce poverty.
“Civil society organisations play an important role in providing social services and in helping to hold governments and development partners to account,” said Tett.
On Wednesday, Palmer urged the leadership to take brave actions to expose and prosecute cases of corruption in the country.
Speaking on the occasion of her country’s 242nd independence anniversary in Lilongwe Palmer appealed to Malawians to demand greater transparency and accountability from those in power.
She lauded the independent and active head of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), saying she would like to see the bureau fully staffed.
“I would like to see investigations carried all the way to their conclusions, including prosecutions and convictions and when that happens, the signal goes out to people who are trying to steal that it won’t be tolerated,” she said. However, the US envoy did not make direct reference to the recent K145 million police food scam.
Two weeks ago, the country’s development partners, especially Britain, Germany and the United States of America, however, expressed concern with government’s disregard of procedures in the new Public Audit Act on appointment of the Attorney General (AG).
But on Thursday, Mutharika warned the unnamed members of the international community to stop meddling in the affairs of Malawi, saying they have to respect that it is a sovereign State.
“Fellow Malawians, you know what is happening in our country. Some people have run away from me, others have turned against me, while others are being sponsored by foreigners.
“I know the CSOs that are being given money, but I want to remind them that this is a sovereign nation and I want them to stop sponsoring the CSOs. Don’t interfere in the affairs of this country. For as long as I am alive, I will not allow this country to be recolonised, never!” charged Mutharika.
He further claimed that he knows how money is moving around on a “mission to destabilise” his government.
“They are funding those people that have turned against me and the CSOs. I know how the money is moving around. I am not stupid.
“I want to ask them to respect that we are a sovereign nation and we are not going to be recolonised,” he added amid cheers from his ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters and senior members. His outbursts have not amused members of the CSOs, with HRDC chairperson Timothy Mtambo saying “Mutharika is confused and the sentiments are a sign that he is panicking”.
He said the CSOs have resolved to side with the poor because the Mutharika government has failed to better the lives of the citizenry.
Said Mtambo: “I can’t believe that the President can sink so low to make such allegations about development partners. Malawi is where it is because it works with different partners. Our development partners are doing tremendous work in health and education, among other sectors.
He asked Mutharika not to view the CSOs and development partners as enemies, but as stakeholders in developing the country.
Until over three years ago, Malawi had been relying heavily on donors, who used to provide 40 percent of the budget support.
But in the wake of the K24 billion Cashgate scandal, whereby some politicians and civil servants looted public resources through fraud and corrupt practices, the donors stopped direct aid to government.
The donors, instead, have been helping poor Malawians directly, through reputable non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
The donors have also been facilitating and closely monitoring the tough economic measures and public sector reforms being undertaken by the government, dangling the hope of the aid resumption—at least in other forms.