HRDC cancels April 29 demos

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has cancelled the demonstrations which were slated for 29 April and were aimed at protesting over abuse of Covid-19 funds.

In a statement today, HRDC Chairperson Gift Trapence said they have made the decision because President Lazarus Chakwera has taken steps to address some of the key issues and concerns that they raised during their press conference on 16 April.

He added that what president Chakwera did shows that there are no sacred cows and they are expecting more arrests and hope that no one will be shielded from the long arm of the law.

“We also note his decision to fire the Minister of Labour whose office paid for allowances for an external trip using Covid-19 funds.  HRDC also noted that the president recommended radical changes to the structure of the entire civil service, as well as the entire system of allowances, employment contracts, and procurement in the public sector to root out corruption after which he will take the next steps towards his goal of overhauling this broken and rotten system from top to bottom,” said Trapence.

He then called for collective action by the Director of Public Prosecution, the Malawi Police Service and the Judiciary to ensure speedy trial and conclusion of all cases.

“HRDC would like to call upon the continued collaboration by of the Malawi Police Service, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) to expose those who plundered resources meant to mitigate against the Covid-19 scourge and to ensure that the money is recovered,” said Trapence

He, however, noted that there are some critical areas which were not addressed and for which his organization still demands answers.

He demanded to know why the Malawi Police and Malawi Defence Force are glaringly missing in the Audit Report despite the fact that these two institutions presented their expenditure reports during the cluster meetings.

Trapence added that president did not also elaborate how his administration will close the loopholes in the public service procurement and accounting system that have allowed this pilferage to thrive.

He then said that his organization will continue monitoring efforts to address not only the plunder of Covid-19 funds, but also efforts to decisively deal with corrupt practices in public sector.