Several Human Rights Activists, including Mr. Sylvester Namiwa, have described Bon Kalindo’s meeting with Malawi Government as total betrayal and an insult to Malawians.
The activists held a press conference this morning, hours after Kalindo in his capacity as leader of anti-government protests in Malawi held a meeting with government ministers where the government agreed to reduce toll gate fees.
Namiwa of Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI); Phunziro Mvula of the Social Revolution Movement (SRM); Steve Chimwaza from Human Rights Ambassadors (HRA); Oliver Nakoma from the Forum for Democracy and Rights Defenders (FDRD); and Gomezgani Nkhoma the Mzuzu Youth Caucus spoke at the press conference where they distanced themselves from the meeting.
“We would like to categorically put it that the said meeting was between the government and Mr. Kalindo, and not organizations that have been conducting demonstrations in the country.
“Simply put, what happened yesterday is total betrayal to Malawians, and an insult to their intelligence, if the outcome of the meeting is anything to go by,” reads part of the joint statement by the civil society leaders who have also been organising anti-government.
Speaking at the press conference, Namiwa said Malawians who have been attending anti-government protests want several issues to be resolved, and not only the issue of toll gates which was the only positive outcome from the meeting.
According to Namiwa, Kalindo should have invited other activists to attend the meeting so that other issues such as fertilizer prices, one million jobs, water tariffs, corruption and punitive taxes should have been addressed during the meeting.
“But what happened yesterday is total betrayal because the resolution made insinuates that people who took to the streets were only demanding a reduction in toll gate fees,” said Namiwa.
On his part, Phunziro Mvula said they had agreed to work together with Kalindo but are surprised that he decided to go to the meeting without the other activists.
Meanwhile, the activists have declared that they will not relent in their pursuit for justice, and ensuring that President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera and his Tonse Alliance government to announce an economic recovery plan with a timeframe and clearly spelt out measures.
They also want government to maintain the prices of fertilizer at MK4, 500 as promised, scrap off the punitive taxes on essential services and goods, act on theft of public funds by top government officials and create jobs.
Other demands include lowering the tollgate fees to MK500 for small vehicles and no more than MK5,000 for the heavy goods vehicles, revision of the recent water and electricity tariffs and implementation the cheaper passports and the drivers’ licenses that do not expire.
“Meanwhile, we are giving government 7 (seven) days to announce the economic recovery plan as indicated above, in order to contain the escalating cost of living. Failure to do so, will call for a total shut down demonstrations in all the 28 districts of the country,” the activists said in their statement.