Lilongwe, 9 March, 2020
RELEASE HRDC MEMBERS, ASSENT TO THE BILLS MR PRESIDENT
The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) is obliged to painfully issue this statement reminding Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) President Peter Mutharika and his party that Malawi attained multiparty democracy in 1993 after the June 14, referendum. This marked the birth of rights and freedoms enshrined in the republican constitution, the Supreme Law of the land. No one indeed, including the President is above this law.
It is wishful thinking that Malawians can accept another dictator after Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s 31 year regime that was characterized by dictatorial style of leadership.
CDEDI therefore, begin by condemning the politically motivated arrests of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) leaders Gift Trapence and Mc Donald Sembereka after Mutharika, Nicholas Dausi, Grezedery Jeffrey and Charles Mchacha took turns threatening them during a rally held in Blantyre on Sunday, March 8, 2020.
Secondly, CDEDI demand immediate and unconditional release of the two great sons of Malawi. The warrant of arrest for Timothy Mtambo should be withdrawn immediately.
Let us also add that currently, Malawi is not a police state neither is it a state of emergency. CDEDI is of the view that Muthrika and his DPP would like to hide behind the baseless threats and arrests in order to dodge his constitutional requirement to assent to the electoral reform bills parliament passed recently. He, therefore attempts to divert people’s attention from matters of national interest and importance to trivia, this is uncalled for and unfair to the people of Malawi.
By calling upon the police and Malawi Defense Force (MDF) to use force to stop the March 25 seal State House demonstrations clearly means that Mutharika is telling the nation that he will not assent to the bills, this to us is arrogance, sheer disrespect for the rule of law and contempt of court.
In the same vein, CDEDI would like to remind the President that CSOs do not have specific terms to serve but presidents and governing parties do, and that the particular term at hand is 150 days from February 3, 2020, therefore it is naïve to think that he is a permanent resident of the State House.
CDEDI, just like all peace loving Malawians is asking Mutharika to rise above partisan interest and assent to the bills, fire the current crop of commissioners at the Electoral Commission (EC) and let the preparations of the fresh elections slated for May 19,2020 start in earnest.
Listening to Mutharika and his supporters who spoke at the Njamba rally save for one Kondwani Nankhumwa, one gets an impression of people whose time is over and are bent at doing anything in order to remain in power reminding us of events similar to 90’s when Malawians said goodbye to one party regime. In short DPP is not ready for the May 19, 2020 fresh elections hence they intend to force Malawians to live in fear.
Furthermore, CDEDI would like reiterate its earlier stand that an attack on Civil Society Organizations (CSO) let alone HRDC is an attack on all, by extension it is an attack on all well-meaning Malawians including the souls of those that lost their lives in the struggle for the democratic dispensation. It also worth pointing out that the Mutharika’s are some of the notable beneficiaries of the struggle for multiparty. They were able to return home from exile at the don of multiparty democracy, therefore, the president should have been the last person to make such careless and unwarranted sentiments.
Of late CDEDI observes that Mutharika and his DPP are spending sleepless nights with HRDC whose only sin is holding his government accountable for its actions and inactions. It is becoming clear that the ruling party is bent at nothing but causing anarchy.
We, at CDEDI would like to advise Mutharika to stop the futile attempts to suppress citizen’s rights and freedoms. The President should come to terms with harsh reality on the ground that should HRDC stop doing such a noble responsibility, that would not guarantee a blank Cheque to him to continue ruling with arrogance and impunity, some people will rise to the occasion and fill the gap until he either do the right thing to endear himself to the masses or completely step down.
CDEDI is a non partisan, nongovernmental organization that was established in a quest to attain a well-informed and organized citizenry that can ably demand their social and economic rights at the same time hold duty bearers accountable for their actions.
Among many others CDEDI aims at sensitizing the masses on matters of national importance, inculcate the spirit of a peaceful coexistence among people of different ethnic, political and religious affiliations; provide civic education on people’s rights and responsibilities in economic independence and contribution towards national development and lobbying for the electoral law reforms.
SIGNED SYLVESTER NAMIWA
CDEDI INTERIM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR