A decision by the Mzuzu City Council (MCC) to assign a security guard so that he could receive a Gender-Based Violence (GBV) petition from concerned persons and stakeholders has ruffled feathers with many saying the act underrated an otherwise "pertinent" and "noble cause."
Security guard receives GBV's petition in Mzuzu
MCC assigned Golden Nyasulu, a direct employee of the Council, who was escorted by two police officers to receive the petition from hundreds of demonstrators.
Clad casually, in a pair of shorts and a replica jersey, Nyasulu confirmed to Nyasa Times that, indeed, he had been delegated by MCC chief executive officer, McCloud Kadam'manja, to receive the petition.
"Yes, I am here to receive the petition. I was asked to do so," said Nyasulu.
He told the protesters to be calm saying he would present the petition to his bosses who were busy with other important issues.
"Thank you for having the most peaceful demonstrations ever. I want to assure you that the petition will be presented to the officials at the right time," Nyasulu, who seemed to have memorised what to say, said.
But the development has caused public roar including from human rights activist and Youth and Society (YAS) executive director, Charles Kajoloweka.
Said Kajoloweka: "The Council's abdication of it's responsibility is inexcusably reprehensible. The Council authorities did not only act in error but also in defiance of public trust.
"Such actions only reveal the nature and depth of political impunity in the public service. The Council must apologize to Malawians."
But MCC publicist, McDonald Gondwe, defended the council's decision and then faulted the organizers for not providing them with a notice in good time hence the council's decision not to grant the petitioners permission to march.
"The organizers were informed of this decision (no authority given for the march), and the police were also informed that as Council we did not grant permission. Surprisingly, today they still went ahead with their march, at the time they reached the civic offices there was no officer; and, instead, they gave it to a guard," said Gondwe.
He also accused the organisers for holding illegal demonstrations.
"The point is that the organizers knew there was no permission. How did they expect to find an officer there? Why couldn't they just deliver their petition on Monday instead?" he said.
According to Gondwe, the guard was there doing his normal duties and when the grouping came to present a petition the guard had no option but to receive it as he was the only MCC official present.
But according to Malawi laws people are only supposed to inform authorities and not necessarily get permission to hold marches.
The demonstrations, which were in solidarity with a woman who had been stripped naked for allegedly "dressing wrongly," were held in the cities of Mzuzu, Lilongwe and Blantyre.-Additional reporting by Pius Nyondo, Nyasa Times.