10 July 2018

Malawi Govt Trashes CSOs April 27 Petition With Comprehensive Response

Malawi government has finally responded to the petition which civil society organisations (CSOs) who led the April 27 civil nationwide protests presented, trashing allegations that the President Peter Mutharika led government is an illegitimate administration.

The response, from Chief Secretary to government Lloyd Muhara, said a Special Taskforce comprising senior government officials was mandayed to oversee the process to come up with the detaled response.

He said government;s response document has been presentedto leaders of the April 27 demonstrtaions, Timothy Mtambo as chairperson with a copy to Gift Trapence of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition. Nyasa Times and other media outlets have also been shared the copy.

In the response, government rejects innuendos in the CSOs petition that suggest that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led administration illegitimate are ill-informed and irresponsible.

"The current administration is a product of a legitimate election process as provided in the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi. SAs such, the legitimacy of this Government cannot be called into question," the response reads in part.

There were different timeframes given on different issues but, overall, the CSOs gave Mutharika a 90-day ultimatum to address all the challenges in the 10-point petition, which will expire on August 28 2018.

On the demands for the government to act on the alleged K263 million cashgate, the Office of President and Cabinet statement says that the issue is being handled by the Anti-Corruption Bureau, therefore, government cannot interfere with the work of the graft busting body.

On demands to fire Finance minister Goodall Gondwe and Local government minister Kondwani Nankhumwa, the OPC refers the CSOs to the Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya as the contentious issues of the payment of K4 Billion was approved by parliament.

"The government does not interfere in the work of Parliament," says the statement in part.

On the demand to speed up the investigation on the death of ACB official Issah Njauju, the OPC says the investigations are still going on.

It says government has "enlisted the assistance of its cooperating partners" like Britain which has offered its expertise to assist in carrying out investigations to find Njauju's assailants.

On the ultimatum for re-tabling and passing of Electoral Reforms Bills which the legislators shot down in parliament, the government says it does not expect the CSOs to think that the government can just take recommendations from the Malawi Law Commission "wholesale" without scrutinising them.

"This would run contrary to our constitutional framework," it says.

One of the CSO leaders Timothy Mtambo said the activists will give their response after going through the responses.

The government responded to the petition after the CSOs made fresh threats for other peaceful protests.

On the issue of the Police Inspector General (IG), the CSOs protested Rodney Jose's appointment because of his alleged human rights violation record and despite his suspected role in the in the brutal death of a University of Malawi student Robert Chasowa.

Jose replaced Lexten Kachama but the CSOs questioned the move after 2012 Commission of Enquiry Report findings implicated him as one of the suspects of the Chasowa murder.

The response said the appointment of Malawi Police chief is a constitutional process involving both the Executive and the Legislature, saying after President makes the appointment, there is inbuilt safeguard mechanism to ensure suitability of the appointee through Parliament which has a responsibility to scrutinise the proposed appointee and make a decision. Jose passed through this process before being confirmed.

Government said it remains committed to work with foreign experts so that investigations into the Chasowa matter are brought to a logical conclusion that is fair and transparent.

In the response, government has said it still remains committed to dialogue and upholding the democratic principles on which the country's constitutional order is founded.


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