Friends and family on Saturday celebrated the life of prominent human rights and social activist Rafiq Hajat who died on September 13 2021 in South Africa.
In an interview on the sidelines of the event, presidential adviser
on non-governmental organisations Martha Kwataine described the late Hajat as a vigilant human rights activist.
She said Hajat was a strong pillar in civil society who was selfless and resolute and whose work human rights activists should emulate.
Said Kwataine : “In civil advocacy, it is not easy because it is about providing checks and balances to the government.
“So, there were times when he [Hajat] would be misunderstood but he believed what was right and remained steady.”
She hailed Hajat for positively contributing to the civil society space through implementation of various initiatives and providing mentorship to many human rights activists who are now prominent.
Kwataine further stressed that Hajat was also exemplary in using civil society funds for intended purposes which enhanced collaboration with donors.
The presidential aide, therefore, said it would be important that human rights activists in the country should play their role objectively the way Hajat did.
On his part, Council for Non-Governmental Organisations (Congoma) chairperson Kossam Munthal i also asked act i v ists to remain impartial and objective in their numerous roles of activism.
However, he asked government to consider
establishing special health facilities to treat heart complications that many people continue to succumb to.
Munthali said: “It is time for government to seriously start investing in such facilities. There is need to invest in infrastructure, human resources and equipment.
“The death of Hajat should prompt government to go back to the drawing board.”
During the memorial service, the late Hajat’s family and friends paid tributes through speeches on how the late activist lived his life.
Hajat, who was executive director of the Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI), died in South Africa where he was taken to for further medical treatment after suffering a heart attack.
Born in Blantyre in 1955, Hajat got a degree in political science at Saint Xavier College in India in 1975.
He first came into the limelight as a human rights and pro-democracy activist at the dawn of democracy and during Bakili Muluzi and Bingu wa Mutharika’s reign.
Hajat served as an executive member in the then governing United Democratic Front (UDF), vice-president of the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, board chairperson of the now-defunct Development of Malawian Enterprises Trust before founding IPI.