Government has agreed to a dialogue meeting with civil society organisations (CSOs) on the Grand Petition II they issued in May 2016 demanding substantive actions on the challenges facing the country.
The CSOs, under the National Advocacy Platform (NAP), a coalition of CSOs and networks jointly advocating effective implementation of policy and legal instruments, issued a 32-paged petition to government in which they raised 10 areas of concern bordering on political, social and economic issues.
Initially, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet (OPC) George Mkondiwa responded to the petition which will now be followed up by a meeting.
Government is scheduled to engage leaders of the CSOs in Lilongwe on October 12 2016, according to a letter dated September 15 2016, and signed by principal secretary (PS) responsible for administration Clement Chinthu-Phiri on behalf of Mkondiwa.
The meeting was scheduled to take place on September 20 2016, but was deferred to allow participation of more key government officials who were attending the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, United States of America (USA).
Additionally, OPC said a few PSs would be appearing before different parliamentary committees early next month which would make it impossible to have good representation of their ministries during the dialogue.
“In view of the above, I wish to advise that the meeting should be rescheduled to Wednesday October 12 2016 in order to secure full attendance and participation from the relevant stakeholders,” reads in part the letter which has been forwarded to executive director of Eye for Development (EFD), which is the secretariat of NAP.
NAP key members include, among others, Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi, Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn), Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen), National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust, Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) and the Council for Non-Governmental Organisations in Malawi (Congoma).
Reacting to the invitation, NAP chairperson Robert Mkwezalamba commended government for giving them a platform for dialogue, saying CSOs want a responsive government that addresses the needs of the people.
“People have so many unmet expectations and, as CSOs, we represent their voices and their issues, but when we submit to government and there is no feedback it becomes worrisome.
“So, that government has allowed a dialogue meeting with CSOs is a very welcome development and we only hope that the principal secretaries from various line ministries will attend,” said Mkwezalamba who is also HRCC chairperson.n