President Peter Mutharika is growingly becoming intolerant and is deliberately trying to stifle those with dissenting views especially on good governance, a group of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have said.
The CSOs, among them, the Centre for Human Rights Rehabilitation (CHRR), the National Organization of Nurses and Midwives (NOMN), Centre for the Development of the People (CEDEP), Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN, Youth and Society, JONEHA, among others, also criticized Mutharika for failure to address other pressing public service delivery needs and social ills prevailing in the country.
This was said during a press briefing earlier today in Lilongwe when the CSOs launched a movement dubbed the Citizens for the Defense of Good Governance and also released a strong worded communiqué criticizing Mutharika’s administration for turning to intimidation and threats on critics, attempts to divide the civil society through abuse of state resources and threats to the freedom of assembly.
“The one year of President Mutharika has been characterized by vestiges of intolerance to dissenting views of critics of the regime who have been subjected to verbal attacks by either Mutharika himself or the governing party’s leadership. CSOs, academics, and media practitioners have been labeled “unpatriotic”, accused of tarnishing the image of the current leadership, challenged on concentrating on “trivia” instead of research, and said to be writing “rubbish” and practicing “mercenary” journalism,” reads part of the communiqué.
Spokesperson for the movement, Timothy Mtambo said while Malawians had observed with great concern the “divide and rule, ambush” approach to dialogue on national issues, greater concern was on reports that government was now bankrolling other civil society groups to threaten the right of other CSOs to hold demonstrations.
Mtambo, responding to questions from the press, further distanced the movement from fears highlighted by a recent alleged National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) report linking some renowned civil society activists with a foreign plot to bring down the Mutharika-led government through civil disturbance
Mtambo challenged government to bring evidence to back the accusation and warned that the intelligence agency was rapidly turning into a political tool for persecution.
“People are dying in our hospitals because of poor funding and yet someone is busy using the same resources to do unnecessary propaganda that will not bring life to those dying because there is no medicine,” said Mtambo.
Mtambo also chided executive branch of government for authorizing the purchase of new controversial vehicles for the Speaker of Parliament and his deputies, saying instead of explaining its role in the ‘irresponsible purchase”, government was busy turning it into political propaganda.
Dorothy Ngoma, named by the alleged NIB report as one of the recipients of cash to destabilize the country, laughed off the report as a pack of lies, fallacious and cheap attempt to divert attention from pressing concerns of Malawians.
On social service delivery, the CSOs asked government to immediately revise the cement subsidy programme, address shortage on drugs, improve security, and quick criminal investigations into both the K92 billion ($168.9 million) and K20 billion ($36.7 million) Cashgate plus into the death of ACB official Issa Njauju and pass the access to information bill.
Furthermore, Mutharika must ensure state broadcaster MBC should cease unleashing propaganda against critics, adjust downwards the newly introduced fees in the education sector, and ensure public sector reforms are scrutinized by parliament while acting swiftly to assure the security of rights activists and the media.