Archive for February, 2012
Government has bowed down to pressure to release renowned lawyer Ralph Kasambara on bail following calls from opposition, civil society, concerned citizens as well as the international community.
This has come after government resisted the release of Kasambara by Minister of Justice Ephraim Chiume who said in a statement he delivered in parliament in the morning.
Just after the house resumed and ten minutes into deliberations, the Justice minister had asked the Speaker of the National Assembly if he could be given time to ake a brief statement to the honourable house and the entire nation.
“Mr Speaker sir, further more to my response to the parliamentary question from honourable member for Salima South and based on medical advice from medical experts and indeed in accordance with the adherence to the rule of law, I am pleased to announce that government will be releasing Mr Ralph Kasambara and five accomplices on bail this afternoon”, said Chiume.
The statement had surprised the house as only an hour was gone when the same minister presented a statement that government would not release Kasambara looking at the gravity of the offence he and five others committed.
The minister alleged that Kasambara and his accomplices committed offences among others causing grievous harm, abduction of a person; amongst others.
Reacting to the statement the minister had delivered, the opposition side were not convinced and wanted more clarification but the Speaker only allowed two questions and closed the matter.
Ministers response to Kasambara saga was due to a question that was asked last week Friday by member for Salima South ,who is also Malabvi Peoples Party president if Malawi was in a state of emergency following the detention of lawyer Kasambara.
Founder of the soon-to-be registered African Nyasaland Party (ANP) Lawrence Sichinga has called for the immediate resignation of the Malawi President Professor Bingu Wa Mutharika for derelict of duty and mismanaging the economy as well as putting many Malawians lives at risk.
“I attended, for the first time in Malawi, the opening of the 43rd Session of Parliament and was surprised with the conspicuous absence of Arthur Peter Mutharika, DPP presidential hopeful who claims that he took holiday because government business was closed; Joyce Banda, the Vice President who likes the convoys and other perks but not the duties,” Sichinga says. “How can these two political figures, who are on government payroll, disrespect such occasions, ” further wondered Sichinga. He says he was further shocked at the jeering from the benches from both sides of the house when the the president was making his speech.
The South African based management consultant claims that the speech itself was a missed opportunity, during which the president could respond and address the current economic challenges facing Malawi. He was shocked that no mention was made of the people who are homeless from floods in Nsanje and Chikhwawa. Sichinga says the president has misread the situation or is being ill-advised considering his asking the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to give Malawi three years to find home-grown solutions to the current economic problems the country is facing. He said, instead, the president shifted the blame onto the west, foreign forces and civil society organizations.
“Our President started very well and Malawians will never forget his commendable work during his first term of office. However politics is like any race or marathon it’s not what you did in the past that is critical but the finishing line”, argues further Sichinga.
Does Malawi have even another day, week, month, even a year under the wa Muthalika leadership? Sichinga believes not, and urges the president to resign with immediate effect on the following grounds:
Malawi’s parallel market is thriving even maize is in the mafia hands so is forex and fuel. The exchange rate is heading to K300 approaching K350 to the Unites States Dollar on the black market very fast. People are paying an extra premium at the fuel pumps to get preference. The growth figures of 7.5 percent are fictitious and fabricated especially from 2008 after the global financial meltdown. Even Britain and other super powers have revised their growth plans to 2.2 per cent per annum. One wonders whether the refusal to devalue the Kwacha is deliberate because someone in or linked to the regime is cashing in on the situation.
The government is being run like a mushroom farm, a family fiefdom where lines between, family, presidency, ruling party and government, ministries and individuals’ personal agendas have become very blurred. The ongoing judicial services strike which has a potential of spilling into other sectors does not augur well when the critical branch of government, the judiciary, is dysfunctional. Malawi is incurring debts that are not approved by the Portfolio committee of finance if there is any such in parliament like for instance the recent $200million used to secure the current fuel; $100million from COMESA and other credit lines from India and China for fuel which are acquired dubiously by corrupt international characters are not being booked to the extent that no one knows how much debt Malawi has incurred. This is in violation of the IMF agreement Malawi is bound by. As I am speaking many companies seriously considering whether to continue operating in Malawi or to go to more sane and investor-friendly countries like Zambia, Tanzania or Mozambique. Malawi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) has came up with a list of factors that are making it difficult to do business in Malawi like lack of forex, power outages and corruption topping the list.
Fraud and Corruption
Malawi has just slipped down on the the International Corruption perception index. Despite government objecting that the report is not true but Sichinga says, “we do not need a report like that to prove there is corruption in Malawi, all you need to ask is why we have many Police Road Blocks it’s not for safety and security it’s for the cops to hassle the public for money they have become corrupt tollgates”. Malawi is encouraging politics of patronage. Those people that toe the ruling party’s line have access to government projects and contracts. That is the reason why same companies and/or individuals are getting all the work from government.
Poor National Security
Behavior of police is risking national security through its actions against vendors who the police are provoking to commit thuggery against private property in our major cities. There are clear signs that there is tension between the Police and the Army. Top officials are forced upon people as they are being appointed because of political allegiance and not performance.
One tribe, the Lhomwe, who are not even 2 per cent of Malawi population are favored for all senior positions while northerners, Chewas, Yaos and others are being marginalized.
Poor human rights and media freedom
The threats by Peter Mutharika to the Daily Times and the Nation newspapers over the past weekend on the MBC are signs of how fast the nation is really going on path to intolerance of dissenting views. It is further evidence that the publicly-funded broadcasters are being used as mouth pieces for family, party, government and friends’ agenda. Police Brutality is on the increase. Up to now there is no conclusion on how Robert Chasowa died. Recently, a student died at the hands of the police in Mzuzu and over 100 people are still walking with bullet wounds, bullets in their bodies from the police’s poor handling of the July 20/21 demonstrations. The Presidential Dialogue Contact group has lost its credibility and direction to an extent that it’s now become a waste of tax payer’s money.
Damaged International Relations
The expelled British Ambassador, frosty relations with Zambia and hosting of Al Bashir and the continuous blaming of donors for our socioeconomic ills instead of dealing with the real issues has been the trade mark of the president’s tenure in Office. The Ppesident’s brother who is the current foreign affairs minister has mismanaged this portfolio just like he did while he was at the Justice and Education ministries before. For a minister who is professor in International Law one wonders why that knowledge and basic commonsense is not applied in resolving these stand offs. Sichinga says, ‘I spent many years as an adviser to blue chip listed companies, where when a CEO has not performed they are asked to step down. This will not be the first in the world for a President to step down. In Italy, Prime Minister Berlusconi; in Greece, George Papandreou and now recently, Yemeni and Romania. All these noble leaders did the honorable thing and stepped down for the love of their countries’.
Formation of a Government of National Unity
Sichinga says a Government of National Unity (GNU) must be formed immediately through a power sharing deal arrived at through wide consultations with all opposition parties. Joyce Banda, if she starts behaving like a leader and stop sulking and staying away from important government functions like parliament, must be helped to lead the country during this era till 2014 and must be curtailed from implementing politics of vengeance and retribution. Sichinga says, the president must be assured immunity from any prosecution if he leaves office on his own. Sichinga is mobilizing resources to invite stakeholders to a forum to start mapping out the nature of the Government of National Unity.