As government is working day and night to discredit the April 27 demonstrations planned by civil society organisations (CSOs), 10 Opposition political parties have come out in support of demonstrations.
In a press statement issued Friday, the political parties urge their followers and the public to participate in the demonstrations, to express their collective unhappiness with the way the country is being governed.
Signatories to Friday’s statement include the country’s former vice-president Cassim Chilumpha as president for Assembly for Democracy and Development (ADD), presidents for People’s Progressive Movement (PPM)Mark Katsonga Phiri, Malawi Forum for Unity and Development (Mafunde) George Nnensa, United Transformation Party (UTP) Newton Kambala and People’s Transformation Party (Petra) Kamuzu Chibambo.
Chibambo, in an interview yesterday, confirmed his party was a signatory to the statement, adding that he was hoping that after the demonstrations, the Mutharika administration would sober up and realise how disgruntled Malawians are.
“It is our belief, as political parties, that this government will be able to see the logic in these demonstrations. We have been going in circles for a long time,” Chibambo said.
He challenged that there is a solution to deal with corruption once and for all and within the shortest period, but he has not been accorded an opportunity to share that with the President.
The 10 political parties say, in the statement, government’s stubbornness has recently been demonstrated by the rejection of the crucial Electoral Reforms Bills, the planned disbursement of K4 billion to legislators under suspicious circumstances and the incessant electricity load-shedding despite recent massive investment in diesel generators.
Other governance problems, according to the statement, include uncurbed corruption in ministries, departments and agencies, poor state of the economy and retrenchments in a number of key companies, arising from government’s failure to manage electricity effectively.
Nnensa said the first thing they want to see government addressing is the issue of K4 billion that was meant to be disbursed to legislators, and secondly, the blackouts that have rendered many people jobless.
On his part, Kambala, in a separate interview said another issue they want to see is thoroughly explained is about the diesel-powered generators, arguing that there have been contradictions on the issue and the nation was still experiencing incessant blackouts.
The political parties, which also include Republican Party, United Independent Party, New Labour Party, National Unity Party and Malawi Democratic Party, say the culture of impunity that has dominated the Malawi political space for many decades, must be stopped now.
The demonstrations are also being supported, among others, by the quasi-religious Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP.
While Government is on record to have said it will not block the demonstrations, on Friday, in an apparent move to justify why the protest are not necessary, organised two press conferences in a space of three hours on the matter.
In the morning, chiefs from the Central Region held a news conference at Mlodza Primary School in Area 23 while in the afternoon, Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Nicholas Dausi, and Minister of Labour, Francis Kasaila, were joined by technocrats to explain what government was doing to address issues at the centre of the demonstrations.
Dausi told the journalists that government had a right to be heard, but put it on record that it was not afraid of the demonstrations.
The two ministers were joined by Escom chief executive officer Allexon Chiwaya and Secretary for Health Dan Namarika and Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Mining, Patrick Matanda.
In the morning, about 20 chiefs from the region, led by Senior Chief Lukwa, told the journalists that if the demonstrations were to proceed, they would affect the poor, and probably lead to needless loss of lives as happened on July 20 2011.
One of the organisers of the demonstrations, Timothy Mtambo, said on Thursday after meeting senior officials from the Malawi Police Service, that he expected the demonstrations to be peaceful.