- They query RBM Governor’s appointment
- Demand MEC, ACB bosses to resign
A group of civil society organisations (CSOs) yesterday accused President Peter Mutharika’s administration of favouring his Lhomwe tribe, and also demanded the immediate resignations of heads of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) and the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), for what they called gross incompetence.
The bold sentiments and demands were made by CSOs, in their commentary on recent pressing socio-political issues of national importance, at a charged press briefing at Lilongwe Hotel.
Among other issues , they expressed support for pronouncements by the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) that said the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-led government was run the country poorly.
They also condemned the government for “shamelessly” using chiefs in propaganda stunts. Pressing home the nepotism accusation, and representing nurses’ organisations in the country, Dorothy Ngoma said the CSOs are concerned by the “Lhomwelisation” of the public service and public appointments.
She queried that all key positions in government are being held by people from the Lhomwe Belt—where Mutharika also comes from. The trend, she added, is diluting the whole essence of national meritocracy— doing things on merit.
Ngoma cited the appointment, on Thursday, of the new Reserve Bank Governor, Dalitso Kabambe, who has succeeded Charles Chuka who retired recently, as an example of how top Lhomwe Belt appointments are the order of the day in the country.
“Why is it that all the key positions, including PS (Principal Secretary) Treasury, Chief Secretary, PS Health and the vast majority of boards are full of Lhomwes?
“I want to categorically condemn this despicable practice, as it is undermining the issue of meritocracy. We want to provide an example of nepotism by reading out this list,” Ngoma said, unfurling a document and naming some top officials she claimed coming from the same area.
Bashing the electoral body, chairperson of the CSO grouping Gift Trapence told reporters that MEC’s postponement of byelections, several days ago, based on a reported lack of resources by the key institution is an affront to Malawi’s flourishing democracy.
“It is the duty of MEC to request for adequate resources from government, to meet its needs,” said Trapence.
Taking his turn, human rights defender Billy Mayaya said the failure by ACB to bring to book murderers of Issa Njauju points to the institution’s failure to operate efficiently and independently.
He faulted ACB’s selective application of the law in the swift arrest of opposition People’s Party interim president Uladi Mussa, over an alleged passport scam while he was minister.
Mayaya juxtaposed this development with ACB’s continued delay and apparent unwillingness to arrest former minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda over the alleged Zambia maize scam and his being found with local cash and stacks of foreign currencies in his home as one of the contradictions dogging the DPP’s failure to govern. He also blamed the government for levelling attacks at a crosssection of eminent Malawians, including the academia, activists, the media and opposition leaders and their parties for critising the government and trying to correct it over some blunders.
Said Mayaya: ”As civil society, we want to show our resolve against this practice and accentuate the fact that it runs counter to the very essence of representative democracy and its correspondent factors of tolerance, human rights and the rule of law.”
On his part, human rights activist MacDonald Sembereka said despite government’s animosity, the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) would still use its mandate to point out governance ills that oppress ordinary Malawians.
The activists have since called on chiefs in the country to be ashamed of choosing to side with the political elite who are failing to find solutions to problems dogging ordinary citizens. Asked for his reaction to allegations of government’s nepotism and incompetence , the normally chatty Minister of Information, Communication and Technology Nicholas Dausi, merely said there is no grain of truth in what the CSO activists have alleged.
Similarly, w h e n contacted, ACB director Lucas Kondowe had a short response merely saying the civil society groups are entitled to their opinions.
On her part, MEC chairperson Jane Ansah said she is surprised to hear such comments from the CSOs, adding that allegations that she had been partisan on the 50+1 electoral matter, are not true, particularly since the 50+1 proposal has not yet became a law.
“MEC is only following what is contained in the country’s laws and if the 50+1 proposed law is passed in Parliament, we will then have to adjust to it,” she said, stressing that as MEC chair, she cannot shoot down recommendations that came from her own office, in the first place.