A war of words has ensued between members of the Malawi Civil Society Led Black Economic Empowerment Movement (Mablem) Taskforce and Human Rights Defenders Coalition over how the two groups are conducting their governance role in the country.
In a statement dated August 27 2018 signed by chairperson Robert Mkwezalamba and coordinator Fryson Chodzi, Mablem accuses the HRDC of unnecessarily condemning the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Escom and the courts.
Mkwezalamba and Chodzi also head the Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) and Forum for National Development (FND), respectively.
In response, the HRDC has accused Mablem members of being government agents.
In its statement, Mablem says it has noted what it terms the HRDC’s unnecessary mistrust towards the bureau and undue influence on the anti-graft body’s work.
Argues Mablem in part: “The pressure on ACB to cancel the use of expert services to undertake a polygraph test for its employees in the wake of a leaked MPS [Malawi Police Service] Food Rations Investigation report is regrettable.”
In an interview yesterday, Mkwezalamba said time has come for CSOs to start checking each other’s conduct so that they get on the right path.
The statement came just a day after another group calling itself concerned civil society organisations (CSOs) accused the HRDC of having lost direction, arguing the planned protests will not address the challenges Malawians are facing.
The group’s leader, Prophet Amos Tchuma of Christian Justice International, also led a group of the clergy in Mzuzu last year in a media briefing where they defended President Peter Mutharika’s laxity in responding to socio-economic challenges raised by various CSOs and quasi-religious grouping Public Affairs Committee (PAC).
“There are always legal processes to be followed, rather than demonstrations to force the President to resign from office. We are already planning for elections next year, therefore, demonstrations may disrupt the voter registration process in some areas,” he said.
Commenting on the issues, HRDC chairperson Timothy Mtambo reacted angrily, saying there is nothing new the groupings can advise the civil society fraternity.
Said Mtambo: “These people are lost. Any institution must be held accountable, be it the courts, ACB, government or the Malawi Human Rights Commission.
He claimed that engaging the current regime in dialogue has proved fruitless.
“We tried on July 20 2011 to dialogue but it never worked, National Aids Commission-gate nothing worked, Blue Night issue dialogue never worked, on the K4 billion and PAC has tried dialogue initiatives but they have never worked,” he said.
In an earlier interview with our sister newspaper Weekend Nation, political analyst George Phiri said the feud among CSOs indicates of lack of objectivity on how much politics has penetrated into their work.