Bereaved families to 20 July demonstrations have complained that the organizers of the protest abandoned them despite the promise of continue support

Monday, July 20, 2015 marked exactly five years after the police in Malawi shot dead 20 people who were part of a national protest against late president Bingu wa Mutharika’s administration over governance and economic concerns.

One of the organisations that stand accused is the Church and Society Program of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia which championed the mass demonstrations in Malawi’s northern region city of Mzuzu where most of the people died.

It was in the forefront in managing burial arrangements and looking at the welfare of the bereaved families in the city.
Executive director of the organization Moses Mkandawire acknowledged to have heard of issues of concern between his organization and the bereaved families.

“I know that there are some misunderstandings between the church and society program and the bereaved families. For example, they think we have not been able to organize commemorations this year,” said Mkandawire.

He disclosed that the bereaved families feel that they are not being helped to their expectation like in construction of tombstones and provision of finances, among other issues.
Said Mkandawire: “I want to meet the bereaved families so that together we can iron out the differences”.

On Monday morning the bereaved families organized prayers at the Zolozolo Cemetery in Mzuzu where bodies of eight victims were buried and they did not invite Mkandawire and his team. Nonetheless, Mr Mkandawire showed up.

Spokesperson for the bereaved families Mercy Mfune accused the church and society program for making decisions without consulting them.

“It’s not that we have left out the church and society, but we think they could have done better on this issue. Even these prayers, we have organized the ourselves as all civil society organizations cannot be traced now,” complained Mfune.

She said the bereaved families want to have another civil society organization that can partner with them in fighting for compensation for the bereaved families because some of the departed people were breadwinners.

At the prayers, advisor to the president on civil society organizations Mavuto Bamusi called for unity between the families and non-governmental organizations, saying life should move on.

Said Bamusi: “civil society organizations and the bereaved families should first mend fences and the government will take it from there in helping to reduce some of the problems the families are facing.”

The killing of the 20 unarmed protesters by police was the worst ever recorded in Malawi’s democracy and came at the hype of a declining economy and what many saw as Mutharika’s dictatorial tendencies.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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