- Wary of clashes with DPP
- Analyst hails decision
In a bid to avert potential clashes with governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) youth cadets, civil society organisations planning the September 7 2018 nationwide protests have deferred their act to September 21.
Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chairperson Timothy Mtambo, who is among the lead organisers, said in an interview yesterday that the shift is in the interest of peace, unity and cooperation.
The rights activists’ decision follows a Blantyre City Council (BCC) move to grant DPP permission to hold what the party is calling Blue Day on September 7 2018, the same day HRDC planned to hold anti-government protests.
The permission BCC granted DPP also covers public rallies at the Kamuzu Stadium upper ground and Chitawira Primary School ground.
Ironically, the HRDC protest march in Blantyre was also scheduled to start from the Kamuzu Stadium upper ground.
In an interview, Mtambo warned that the HRDC will not tolerate any “enemy of progress to come in with their confusions” again on September 21.
He said: “Unlike the DPP, we [CSOs] do not believe in violence. We know that what they did in Blantyre by conniving with the Blantyre City Council to grant them permission to conduct what they are calling the Blue Day was a deliberate measure to provoke us.
“We will not allow them to propagate their strange and violent culture in Malawi. We love each other, we love peace and we love cooperation. We will not tolerate any enemy of progress to come in with their confusions again.”
Mtambo said the CSOs have allowed the DPP to have September 7 to themselves while the citizens will speak their minds on September 21 2018.
He said: “Remember when we were organising April 27 protests? The city refused us use of Victoria Avenue giving excuses that there are a lot of shops, that people don’t want disturbance and that the police will be overpowered but they gave DPP that route.
“This time around, they have given DPP consent to do their thing in Blantyre rejecting what we had asked. We condemn this. It is not only undemocratic, but also does not show any level of civilisation. We have sent fresh notification letters to all cities for the September 21 protests.”
The development comes two weeks after DPP regional governor for the South, Charles Mchacha, warned that he will not allow the CSOs to hold protests in the region.
Speaking during the party’s rally at Blantyre’s Bangwe Township, he claimed Malawians were tired of demonstrations, saying “they serve selfish interests of the organisers”.
On the justification to grant the DPP permission, BCC chief executive officer Alfred Chanza said the party was the first to ask for the permission and his office could, therefore, not grant the same to latecomers.
He said: “It depends on who comes first to seek permission. Actually, on the same day, the Seventh Day Adventist Church also wanted to have an activity, but they came late, so we granted it to the DPP because their request came earlier.”
Reacting to the developments, University of Livingstonia lecturer and political commentator George Phiri hailed the CSOs’ gesture, describing it as a welcome move to avoid unnecessary clashes and tension.
He said in an interview yesterday the move will also help to understand whether DPP just wanted to instigate violence and that if it is a peace-loving party, it will not schedule any similar activity on September 21.
Said Phiri: “It is good that the dates have been changed. The DPP government continues to frustrate protests because it doesn’t want to address the issues or needs of the people. Secondly, it’s because they want to frustrate the CSOs and run their affairs without disturbances.
“But DPP should understand the rules of democracy. People have freedom of demonstration when their needs are not met. Therefore, it should stay away from disturbing peaceful demonstrations.”
HRDC vice-chairperson Gift Trapence said among the issues to be raised in the upcoming demonstration is government’s failure to address worsening corruption in the country.
Other issues include theft of fuel K1.9 billion at Electricity
Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom), calls for the resignation of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general Reyneck Matemba, immediate suspension of the contract for the supply of gensets and an immediate stop of nepotism in government appointments.
He said through the demonstrations, CSOs and participants seek to peacefully express their dissatisfaction and denounce violation of human rights that are enriched in the bill of rights.
The HRDC resorted to going for a second round of protests this year after assessing that government scored just 10 percent in its implementation of the 10-point demands raised during the April 27 2018 demonstrations.
In that petition, the HRDC demanded that President Peter Mutharika should cancel the appointment of Rodney Jose as Inspector General of Police and wanted the Electoral Reforms Bills to be re-tabled in Parliament in their original form as recommended by the Law Commission.
On the CSOs’ demand for government to re-table in Parliament the Electoral Reforms Bills in their original form, government, in its response, said the demand undermined constitutional order and democratic system since various players take different roles in the legislative process.
The DPP has long opposed protests, with its cadets on the eve of the July 20 2011 nationwide anti-government demonstrations driving around in Blantyre wielding pangas and threatening all those that wanted to take part in the protests.
On April 26 this year, DPP cadets also paraded in Blantyre, inconveniencing motorists and pedestrians alike along the way.