Human Right Watch (HRW) has asked President Lazarus Chakwera to use his electoral victory to reset Malawi’s human rights record by capitalising on the goodwill from Malawians and the global community.
A statement issued yesterday and signed by HRW Southern Africa director Dewa Mavhinga stated that Malawi faces various human rights challenges, including rising economic inequalities, poverty and recurrent food insecurity.
Said Mavhinga: “President Chakwera should place respect for human rights and rule of law at the centre of his new administration. The new President needs to put into action his own words that his victory at the polls is a victory for democracy and justice.
“President Chakwera should give particular attention to improving the lives of people in Malawi who have suffered inequality and discrimination. The prevailing goodwill from the people of Malawi and the global community should not be wasted.”
He also askeds the Chakwera administration to ensure that the rights of all, particularly marginalised communities, are fully respected.
Mavhinga said: “Since 2014, at least 150 crimes have been reported against people with albinism, including killings, abductions, grave exhumations, and threats. Malawi’s laws prohibiting consensual same-sex relations foster a climate of fear and fuel violence and discrimination.
“The lack of clarity about the legal status of same-sex conduct leaves LGBT people vulnerable to arbitrary arrests, physical violence, and routine discrimination.
“The government should reaffirm the moratorium on arrests for consensual same-sex conduct issued by the Justice Minister in 2012 and move rapidly to decriminalise such conduct.”
In an earlier interview, Public Affairs Committee (PAC) spokesperson Bishop Gilford Matonga said Chakwera should address the needs of the people to avoid fighting with them.
In his acceptance speech after swearing-in in Lilongwe on Sunday, Chakwera said his adminstration will pursue Malawi’s dream, not just as servants accountable to voters, but as stewards of the hopes of millions of children, born and unborn.
He said: “The dream that binds us together is for us to enjoy shared prosperity, not just freedom. For of what use is freedom from oppression if you are a slave to starvation? Or freedom from colonialism if you are a slave to tribalism? Of what use is freedom from tyranny if you are a slave to poverty?”
Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson Justice Chifundo Kachale on Saturday declared Chakwera, 65, winner of the June 23 fresh presidential election after he amassed 58.7 percent of the vote.
Chakwera becomes Malawi’s sixth President, knocking out immediate past president Peter Mutharika.