13 September 2017

Malawi: CSOs Terminate Dialogue With DPP - to Sue Malawi Ruling Party Over Blue Night Donations

Photo: Democratic Progressive Party
Peter Mutharika (file photo).

Five civil society organisations (CSOs) pushing the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to refund money from some State enterprises have resolved to proceed with their intention to sue the party, saying they are terminating the dialogue process.

CSOs, through their lawyer Wesley Mwafulirwa, that the party secretary general Greselder Jefffrey wa Jeffrey that they have noticed "lack of seriousness" on the matter.

"Be, therefore, advised that any day deom to date you will be served with necessary court processes, unless of course our clients's earlier demands are met.

"In any casem our clinets strongly believe their two demands can be met without further meetings," reads the letter dated September 11 2017.

The five CSOs pushing for the refund are Youth and Society (YAS), Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), Church and Society Programme, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC).

YAS executive director Charles Kajoloweka confirmed they are proceeding with the matter in court.

He said the organisations were expected to get a list from DPP of all public institutions that made the illegal donations to the party and a date when they will pay back to the money.

"There has been little commitment from the party. We expected them to respect the dialogue process because they are the ones who asked for it," said Kajoloweka.

But DPP vice president Hetherwick Ntaba, who was in charge of soliciting the donations from State enterprises, said the party expect the dialogue procees to continue.

The DPP initiated the dialogue against a background of previous arrogant stances by its senior officials, including Jeffrey who described as "zachamba [nonsense]" calls from CSOs and governance watchdogs, including Malawi Law Society (MLS), for DPP to refund an estimated K13.5 million collectively donated by public institutions during its fundraising dinner and dance at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe on July 29 2017.

Last week DPPs apologised over remarks which Wa Jeffrey and Ntata made to rubbish calls by CSOs condemning donations by State enterprises in a fund-raising drive branded 'Blue Night' and demanded a refund to the agencies.

On July 29 2017, DPP held a fundraising dinner and dance at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe where Blantyre City Council (BCC), Mzuzu City Council (MCC) and Lilongwe Water Board (LWB), among others, made financial contributions totaling K13.5 million.

Under Section 178 of the Constitution and Section 23 of the Public Finance Management Act, no single kwacha of public money is supposed to be expended unless such expenditure is authorised by an Appropriation Act or is a statutory expenditure.

Newspaper columnist and fearless political commentator George Kasakula has given DPP's committement to a dialogue or paying back the cash a pinch of a salt.

In his "Hitting the Nail" column published in Malawi News, Kasakura wrote: "The DPP is toning down because it has realised dismissing the five civil society organisations with the wave of its hand, so that we all forget and move on to wait for another round of abuse and bad governance, is not working."

He continued: "But when did DPP dialogue with anybody for the good of the nation? Does the party even know the colour and spelling of dialogue?Does DPP think Malawians have forgotten how it treated Public Affairs Committee (Pac) when it demanded dialogue with government on resolutions of its first all-inclusive conference that included an end to corruption, nepotism and selective justice?"

Kasakura argues that the five CSOs will be "foolhardy" to believe a word that DPP is saying on dialogue.

"The DPP simply wants to move on and will not pay back a single dime of the money they bullied city councils and state companies into giving them.Which is why, for the impunity to stop, the High Court must come to the rescue of the long suffering Malawians by coming up with a ruling that calls a spade by its rightful name of a spade and not a big spoon.

"Malawians have suffered enough at the hands of struggling state companies that cannot even repair a broken water pipe and have now resorted to pumping toilet stuff into people's homes and disguise it as water," he wrote.

The columnist pointed out that the DPP only listens to protests, strikes and court cases.

Other commentators says there is no need to have a series of meetings when the issue can be resolved by DPP refunding the public money.

They said CSOs will be compromised to lock up themselves in a meeting with DPP.

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