The Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) says the Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) is not raising new issues in its petition for the January 17 demonstrations.
Cama has admitted the observation, but wonders whether the fact that the issues are not new should stop one from raising them again.
Cama is organising the demonstrations in protest against economic hardships people are facing, notably rising consumer and service prices in the wake of devaluation and floatation of the kwacha.
HRCC chairperson Undule Mwakasungula on Monday said the issues raised in Cama’s petition are not new; therefore, do not necessitate demonstrations.
Mwakasungula said this after he donated various items to patients at Kaporo Health Centre and Chitemwano Orphanage in Karonga.
Civil society presented a 20-point plan to government last year following demonstrations which resulted in the death of 20 civilians.
Said Mwakasungula: “The problem some people have is that they think the road-map was for Bingu. That was for government, that is why the current government has not abandoned it.”
Mwakasungula clarified his organisation is not against Cama’s demonstrations, but that it believes they should be the last resort.
“When we had demonstrations last year, they were the last resort and all people were involved in its planning. Cama should have put their concerns on the table, which are indeed pertinent, for discussion. Then, we could have found a way forward, but surely not going to the streets,” said Mwakasungula.
Cama executive director John Kapito on Wednesday admitted that some issues raised are not new, but argued this should not block people from raising them again.
Said Kapito: “Yes, they are not new, but is it a crime to raise them again? Have they been solved? The fact that organisations like MCCCI and others are against the demonstrations cannot stop us from carrying them on because they are not consumers.”