Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have asked President Peter Mutharika to apologise following his attack on donors last week.
The organisations, Centre for Development of People (CEDEP) and Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), have also condemned in strongest terms the “xenophobic remarks” which Mutharika uttered at a stop-over rally last week.
On Tuesday, July 18 at Biwi in Lilongwe, the president branded donors and international residents as “visitors” who have nothing to do with running the affairs of this country. He also lashed out at CSOs for trying to derail the Salima-Lilongwe Project.
The attack came after donors had called on government not to flout procedures when implementing the Salima-Lilongwe Water Project.
In a statement signed by CHRR Executive Director Timothy Mtambo and CEDEP Executive Director Gift Trapence, the two have called upon the president to withdraw his remarks and issue an unconditional apology to the development partners and donors.
“He should also desist from uttering such remarks in future. We expect a citizen elected into the office of the president to have the sophistication of aura and decorum and not make statements that may have a corrosive effect on the constitutionalism of Malawi 23 years after a return to multiparty democracy,” says the statement.
The two have reminded Mutharika that Malawians will not accommodate remarks that risk taking the country back to one party era when voices of transparency and accountability demands were met with scorn and heavy-handedness.
According to the CSOs, Mutharika’s attacks were ill-informed, misplaced and undemocratic. The organisation argues that the president should be the last citizen to demonstrate aversion towards transparency and accountability on development projects in the magnitude of the Salima-Lilongwe Water project.
“The president took an oath to uphold and safeguard the Constitution of Malawi which is firmly founded on an open democratic governance, as stipulated in Chapter III. As such, the president must desist from displaying vestiges of intolerance and dictatorship on matters of national importance,” reads part of the statement.
CHRR and CEDEP have also reminded Mutharika that bilateral or multilateral donors have contributed to the development of this country ever since colonial times by supporting different development projects such as construction of hospitals and schools.
“They have also assisted with funds for recurrent government expenditure and the importance of donors and their contributions to national development in Malawi needs not be overemphasized,” says the statement.
According CEDEP and CHRR, donors and development partners are, thus, justified to demand transparency and accountability in the Salima- Lilongwe Water Project taking into account the issues of corruption that have become prevalent and have contributed to long-standing poverty in the country.