Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) says it remains strong and steadfast in its quest to hold government to account despite the appointment of some of its activists to diplomatic missions.
This comes after the Tonse Alliance administration appointed four of the coalition’s senior members to take up new roles in different foreign missions.
The members are Luke Tembo, who was HRDC national coordinator and has been posted to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, Central Region cordinator Billy Mayaya, who is heading to Brussels in Belgium, Northen Region cordinator Happy Mhango, who is taking up a diplomatic post in Berlin in Germany and executive member Reverend Macdonald Sembereka, who has been posted to New York in United States of America.
The four are part of the 40 diplomat designates who are currently undergoing orientation in Lilongwe.
The workshop started on Wednesday and will end next Tuesday.
In a statement issued on Thursday, HRDC chairperson Gift Trapence said despite the appointments, the organisation remains unchanged and will continue holding government accountable through provision of checks and balances to ensure a transparent and accountable democracy.
He said in the statement: “HRDC is bigger than individuals and the organisation has clear transitional structures and processes, including transitional procedures. As such, following these developments, the HRDC Board will decide how to fill these vacancies as guarded by the organisation’s governance policies.”
HRDC said while it understood and appreciated apparent concerns and apprehension among Malawians, nothing has changed for the coalition in terms of policy, principle, direction and mission.
But in an interview, Tembo declined to comment on his appointment saying he would do so at an appropriate time while Mhango said he had not yet decided on whether to pick up the offer or not.
“I know about the offer but I have not made a decision because I have not seen the contents so I might be commenting on something that might not come to pass,” he said despite being part of the appointees undergoing the orientation workshop.
Mayaya asked for a questionnaire but did not respond to it while Sembereka was not available on his mobile phone.
The appointments have, however, drawn mixed reactions with some saying the quartet is being rewarded for their militant stance against the Democratic Progressive Party regime while others allege the President Lazarus Chakwera administration simply wants to choke the country’s social and human rights activism.
But HRDC said in the statement it hoped the foursome was carrying with it the “same level of integrity and professionalism they exhibited during their service with the organisation and will continue to maintain the spirit of revolution in their endeavours.”