Some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have accused the Peter Mutharika administration of lacking vision and leadership in steering the nation from the brink of collapse.
The CSOs’ argue in a statement issued today that the sad state of the country’s democratic and economic governance, water as well as electricity crisis, attest to that failure.
The CSOs include Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Human Rights Defenders Forum, Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), Civil and Political Space Platform as well as human rights activists Martha Kwataine and Billy Mayaya.
Reads the statement in part: “Of late, we have witnessed with alarm large-scale challenges such as water and electricity crisis, ills in the education and health sectors and a cloud of uncertainty over the Farm Input Subsidy Program [Fisp] in the agriculture sector.
“We have also seen a country fast receding into an old-age political and economic malaise: A country where pursuit of corrupt cases alias Cashgate is highly skewed towards offering immunity to those in power while coming the hardest on the weak.”
The CSOs also argue that Mutharika is compromising interests of the general public “to serve vain, selfish and partisan interests”.
“Many Malawians are enduring the effects of poor governance under the current administration, yet the President has chosen to plunder hard earned taxpayers’ money with an air of unbridled entitlement. This is an insult of the highest order, and not befitting the high office of the land,” the CSOs charge.
During a press briefing on his trip to the United Nations General Assembly (Unga) last week, Mutharika said he was already a millionaire when he returned to Malawi from the United States of America (USA), further declaring that he can do without taxpayers’ money.
“You can check my [bank] account in New York,” stressed Mutharika, who had lived and worked in the USA for roughly 40 years before returning to his homeland in 2007.
The sentiments have also attracted the wrath of CSOs who argue that the remarks are demeaning.
“We believe that Malawians do not need to be told whether the President was a millionaire before joining the race for presidency for they exactly know the truth, and have vivid answers in their hearts. This mockery must stop!”
On Public Service Reforms, the CSOs argue gains being made are only on paper and nothing substantive is being achieved on the ground, further branding the programme “a window-dressing exercise aimed at gaining cheap political mileage”.
“The mere fact that the establishment and functions of the Public Reform Programme Commission by-passed parliamentary approval calls the legality and legitimacy of the body itself into serious question,” they claim.
Among other recommendations, the CSOs have urged Mutharika to reduce local as well as international travels and revise the Decent and Affordable Housing Subsidy Programme budget and adjust downward the newly introduced fees in schools.
They have also urged Mutharika to respect and protect media freedom, by among others, signing the much-awaited Table Mountain Declaration, and fully supporting the enactment of the Access to Information Bill (ATI).
But in an earlier interview, special advisor to the President on non-governmental organisations and civil society, Mavuto Bamusi told The Nation that the CSOs were being childish by attacking Mutharika’s attitude.
“CSOs are being immature. They are taking a childish approach. CSOs in Malawi need to mature. Malawians were being fed with lies and the President could not tolerate that. The CSOs have to be responsible,” said Bamusi.