An association of returnees and former detainees plan to petition the Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya to compel the Attorney General (AG) to meet them so they can present their grievances.
The representatives ofthe Malawi Returnees and Ex-detainees Association, estimated to be 23 000, haveon several occasions attempted to meet the AG. as recommended by the Office ofthe Ombudsman, without success.
The returnees and ex-detainees are seeking compensation and resettlement after the Ombudsman took up their case in 2017, resulting in a report Malawi’s Unhealed Wounds released in September last year.
A representative of the association Tandu Somanje said in an interview yesterday under the National Compensation Tribunal fund, most of the returnees and ex-detainees were given partial payments ranging from K10 000 to K20 000 with the assurance the complete package would be paid on a date to be communicated.
Under Section 145 (1) of the Constitution, the Compensations Tribunal wound up after 10 years without the remaining money being paid out as the Ombudsman investigations found.
The petition to be presented to Parliament reads: “Unfortunately, our claims never saw the light of day (apart from a few political gurus) up until the elapsing of the Tribunal’s stipulated lifespan. This led us to seek remedies from the Office of the Ombudsman, the Courts and the Malawi Human Rights Commission [MHRC].”
In the petition, the returnees also want the Speaker to help both parties identify a mutually agreed upon mediator and then ensure reparations are paid to them without delay.
Somanje said the Ombudsman investigations determined that they deserved more compensation than they received.
Ombudsman Martha Chisuma instructed the AG to initiate a negotiated settlement with the claimant’s representatives in the presence of a mutually agreed upon mediator.
The Ombudsman gave a timeframe for an agreement to be reached between the two parties and that a report of the same was to be submitted to the Ombudsman’s Office by January 31, 2018.
“Having failed to secure a meeting with the Attorney General, we now have as a last resort decided to turn to your good offices for your intervention so as to compel the Attorney General to meet us within 14 days from the date of presenting this Petition,” he said.
The association is yet to identify a member of Parliament to receive the petition on behalf of the Speaker’s office as mandated by Standing Orders.
The new AG Kalekeni Kaphale could not be reached by telephone to comment on whether he was aware of the matter.