Malawi Govt Urged to Establish Dialogue Taskforce to Discourage Demos

Malawi's Lazarus Chakwera.
15 April 2021

Council for Non-governmental Organisation (CONGOMA), Malawi Justice Network (MEJN) and National Advocacy Platform (NAP) have jointly engaged Government asking for the establishment of a dialogue taskforce.

Reading a communique after a half-day interface on Tuesday, NAP national coordinator Benedicto Kondowe says dialogue has lasting solutions and the Government needs to urgently consider engaging civil society organisations (CSOs) on outstanding and emerging governance and human rights issues.

This, Kondowe said, is as outlined in the June 2020 Grand Petitition and the April 2021 policy paper generated by CONGOMA and MEJN.

"Government should formalize and institutionalize dialogue mechanisms with the civil society through conducive platforms and procedures," he said.

President Lazarus Chakwera, Kondowe said, should be meeting and engaging the civil society to listen to the alternative voice on the state of governance and human rights in Malawi.

"Government should establish a civil society-government dialogue team that should review and recommend an inclusive dialogue mechanisms that will promote mutual accountability."

He said government should guarantee the protection and safety of civic space actors, including civic leaders and journalists.

Responding to Kondowe, presidential advisor on NGOs, Martha Kwataine welcomed the idea of dialogue, saying she was aware of challenges which NGOs are facing in Malawi.

"Just as I have stated in the previous meetings we have had in this very same room, I can assure that Government is aware of these challenges and is continually exploring ways to ensure that systems, mechanisms and institutions are elevated to create a suitable and appropriate environment for CSOs to function well."

On the need of choosing dialogue with Government than demonstrations, Kwataine said was happy with the approach, saying what the CSOs have proposed as dialogue mechanisms is commendable.

"Obviously, it will leave an indelible mark in the progressive realization of our democracy and respect for citizen participation.

"These proposed mechanisms will certainly grow and cement partnerships that have long existed between Government and various non-state actors.

She said such process will complimenting government's efforts -- be it in education, health, environmental management, public finance management, combating corruption, elections management, decentralization, child protection, women empowerment, gender equality, amongst many others.

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