Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) is facing an uphill task in its quest to organise nationwide protests scheduled for this Friday following city councils reluctance to give them the go-ahead.
On Wednesday, Mzuzu City Council (MCC) wrote HRDC, asking it to postpone the demonstrations aimed at forcing Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Justice Jane Ansah to resign, saying Mzuzu University (Mzuni) had already booked the day for a graduation ceremony.
Meanwhile, Blantyre City Council (BCC) has said it will conduct mayoral elections on the day and is yet to decide whether to give HRDC the green light to hold the protests.
Lilongwe and Zomba city councils have also said they are yet to decide on the same, but Lilongwe City Council (LCC) was locked in a meeting on Wednesday evening as we went to press to discuss the matter and map the way forward.
But in an interview on Wednesday, HRDC vice-chairperson Gift Trapence was adamant, insisting they will go ahead with the demonstrations.
“Whether they respond or not, we will have the protests, after all the law doesn’t require us to beg for the protests but simply to notify them. We are supposed to have planning meetings, but they are not responding, so we will move on.
“It is not our problem, it is their problem, we have followed the law and we will go on with the protests,” he said.
Besides the cities, he said the protests will also be held in Mangochi, Mchinji, Rumphi and Karonga, among others.
MCC spokesperson McDonald Gondwe said they have invited HRDC and Mzuni leadership and all stakeholders to a meeting this morning to map ye way forward.
BCC chief executive officer (CEO) Alfred Chanza, who has so far twice rejected HRDC’s notification for protests, said they were yet to respond, but stressed that they are busy with preparations for mayoral elections this Friday.
LCC (CEO) John Chome said they were meeting on Wednesday to determine the way forward.
In Zomba, the council’s spokesperson Mercy Chaluma confirmed receipt of the notice, but said they were yet to respond to the same.
Meanwhile, National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said the law enforcers were ready to provide security on the day.
“The police have always been ready to provide security. Let me call on everybody who wants to take part to be peaceful and I am glad that the organisers have always emphasised the need for peace,” he said.