Civil society organisations (CSOs) under the banner of Human Rights Defenders (HRD) have asked the European Union Parliament and the United States of America (US) to impose sanctions on Malawi Government over “deteriorating levels of governance”.
In a letter The Nation has seen and addressed to president of the European Parliament, the CSOs say they want the international community to intervene and have President Peter Mutharika’s foreign bank accounts frozen until the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) concludes investigations into the K145 million Malawi Police Service (MPS) food rations supplier Pioneer Investments deposited into a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) account at Standard Bank whose sole signatory is Mutharika.
But government spokesperson Nicholas Dausi has described the CSOs’ move as extreme and an indication of “the pathological hatred” they have towards Mutharika and DPP.
However, in their letter, the CSOs argue that the plunder of public resources can only be halted through punitive measures on some senior government officers, including the President.
The two-page letter signed by HRD chairperson Timothy Mtambo and his deputy Gift Trapence comes barely days after the CSOs called for Mutharika’s resignation over the leaked ACB dossier.
The CSOs also cite a number of suspected corruption transactions, including the disposal of the then wholly State-owned Malawi Savings Bank (MSB), hiring of diesel-powered stand-by generators for Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) and the recently exposed K2.3 billion police food rations deal.
“In this regard, we make the following demands: We call upon bilateral partners to institute measures to prevent travel of the President and Cabinet to Europe and the United States until the governance situation improves. We call upon the international community to carry out a fact-finding mission,” reads the letter in part.
During a news conference in Lilongwe yesterday, Trapence said they have also dispatched copies of the letter to some embassies in the country to help exert pressure on government to resolve outstanding corruption cases involving the Mutharika administration.
He also claimed that human rights defenders are receiving threats from unknown callers over their demands for Mutharika’s resignation and for questioning the appointment of Rodney Jose as Inspector General of Police despite his suspected role in the death of Robert Chasowa. This issue is also highlighted in the letter to the European Parliament.
On his part, Mtambo also said he received some threats from unknown callers. He said threats were tactics employed by ‘corrupt regimes’ to protect their ‘rotten’ interests.
But in a telephone interview, Dausi, who is Minister of Information and Communications Technology, said the CSOs are making noise to stay relevant to their funders, arguing that there is no need to rush to the international community when there are governance structures within the country to handle such complaints.
He said the ACB should be allowed to independently conclude the investigations.
Said Dausi: “They [CSOs] are used to demeaning their own country. We have governance structures and we think we can handle this issue within our territorial integrity but because it is democracy and some want to have a louder voice on anything, we cannot do anything about it.
“Sometimes the CSOs are being too irrational in their thinking… Why can’t they wait for the conclusion of the matter before raising their concerns? But let’s wait and see.”
Mutharika and his DPP have come under intense criticism following the leaked ACB report last week which indicates the President benefited K145 million from a suspected fraudulent deal between MPS and Pioneer Investments.
But the President has said his hands are clean and that the said money was a donation to the DPP into the party’s headquarters project account for which he is the sole signatory.