Taxpayers will have to foot an unplanned K22.9 million as costs for the State’s hosting of members of the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) during their foiled State House vigils in Lilongwe last week.
Presidential adviser on Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) Mavuto Bamusi said in an interview yesterday that government will pay the amount as costs for transporting and hosting Apam members at the Malawi Institute of Management (MIM) campus in Kanengo, Lilongwe.
He said: “We wish to call upon Apam to be sober in the approach and they should be reasonable in their demand. As government we are concerned that Apam threw spanners in the dialogue which the President initiated. Specifically, the total costs for their accommodation is K22.9 million.”
The unplanned cost comes at a time Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe is facing a tough task to balance the K1.5 trillion 2018/19 National Budget. The minister indicated that several expenditure lines will face a downward revision during the ongoing Mid-Year Budget Review Meeting of Parliament.
Persons with albinism (PWAs), who last week staged a protest march en route to their abortive vigil at Kamuzu Palace to demand a commitment for their protection amid atrocities perpetrated against them since November 2014, were lodged at MIM on full board arrangement.
Apam has since suspended its vigils after police arrested eight of its members on Saturday for blocking the M1 Road outside MIM campus as Mutharika was travelling from the Northern Region.
Ombudsman Martha Chizuma confirmed in a telephone interview yesterday that the suspension of the vigil followed the intervention of the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) after considering the plight of the PWAs in the past days.
She said: “We have given March 20 as the date when we will meet the President.”
On a positive note, Chizuma noted that Apam has made enough advocacy that led to Mutharika to appoint a commission of enquiry which, among other tasks, will investigate the availability of markets for body parts of people with albinism.
But Bamusi accused Apam of not being sober in its approach to the issue.
Malawi is experiencing a resurgence of attacks against persons with albinism, with two fatalities and three abductions since 31 December 2018. Two of those who were abducted were later rescued by community members, one remains missing.
Since November 2014, the number of reported crimes against people with albinism in Malawi has risen to 152 cases, including 25 murders and more than 10 people missing, according to Apam.