Malawi: New Twist To Malawi Protests As HRDC Make Fresh Demands

Anti-Jane Ansah protests in Lilongwe.
19 September 2019

Anti-Jane Ansah protests in Lilongwe have ended after organisers, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) made fresh demands, asking parliament to reject the appointment of Duncan Mwapasa as the top cop in the country among others.

Fearless HRDC chairperson Timothy Mtambo presented the petition to government officials at Capital Hill to mark the end of the protests on day one.

“Mwapasa has brought disrepute into the police profession. He should not be the Inspector General,” said Mtambo.

In the petition seen by Nyasa Times, HRDC argue that under his belt at deputy police chief, Mwapasa failed to protect the abduction and killings if people with albinism and also that he failed to keep peace during protests, agitating protestors with firing live bullets in support of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration.

They have also accused Mwapasa of havinga a hand in murder of Polytechnic student activist Robert Chasowa, saying he is named in the Commission of Inquiry report.

HRDC state that Mwapasa is a “confessed DPP cadet” whose appointment is based on political patronage, nepotism and “politics of poverty of ideas” rather than on merit and professionalism.

Reads the petition: “Mwapasa’s appointment is clearly a typical President Mutharika’s ploy to maintain the Malawi policeservice under DPP capture as the expense of public interest.”

Mtambo has also asked the parliamentarians to reject the budget for the construction of two stadia for the privately owned Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers.

He said it was illogical to fund privately owned football clubs when the government is failing to improve public services especially in health and education.

Conspicuously missing at the demos are opposition leaders; Malawi Congress Party president Lazarus Chakwera and his UTM counterpart Saulos Chilima who are pre-occupied with the landmark presidential poll case.

Mutharika won the first-past-the-post election with 38.5 per cent of the vote, compared with just over 35 per cent for Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidential hopeful Lazarus Chakwera, his closest challenger. Chakwera, who has called the result “daylight robbery,” is challenging the results at constitutional court with Chilima, to seek a rerun.

The two are challenging the outcome alleging that the vote was marred by fraud and that result sheets were altered using typewriter correction fluid.

Embattled electoral commission chair Ansah, a judge of Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, has defended the use of correctional fluid in the results tallies and denies wrongdoing.

Malawi has enjoyed multi-party democracy since 1994, leading to relative political stability compared with other countries in the region. But the disputed election has led to a months-long political crisis that has brought thousands of young Malawians on to the streets. The demonstrations have been mostly peaceful but there have been outbreaks of violence in some instances.

Governance experts and commentators argue that Mutharika largely lacks public backing, having only secured 38.6% of the popular vote and that anti-government sentiment will likely grow if protesters continue to feel unheard, with Ansah’s continued service .

“ It is very likely that the more President Mutharika and Jane Ansah continue to ignore the issues raised by the protesters, frustrations will accumulate and this will eventually lead to protesters demanding fresh issues for Mutharika to address,” governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali told Nyasa Times on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, HRDC had reaffirmed that no individual takes Malawi as his or her personal property by inflicting more misery on poor and heavily taxed Malawians.

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