Activists warned against JB euphoria


Activists in the country have been warned against aligning themselves to the People’s Party (PP) which has assumed the country leadership, saying that would compromise their role of providing checks and balances to the government.

The warning comes at a time some members of the civil society are associating themselves with the People’s Party, with others literally wearing the party’s official colours.

“This euphoria of change is a cause for concern to Malawians. It is as if we have achieved anything more than just a change of the government. And if we fall into this trap as we did in 2005 when late President Bingu wa Mutharika formed his own party after ditching the United Democratic Front, we are going to lose track as we did with Mutharika,” said Joseph Chunga, president for the Political Scientists Association.

Chunga observed that the current change of the government could be nothing in itself if it does bring the positive change people are looking for; hence, the need for extra consciousness before showering praises.

“It’s not that she [President Banda] campaigned on a certain agenda and people voted for her on that particular agenda. She’s just come in because of this sudden death of the former president. Let her perform first.

“Otherwise, we would justified to say some of these activists are repositioning themselves to the current regime to be rewarded accordingly just as politicians are doing,” Chunga said.

He has since called upon the civil society to be proactive in advising the current regime on what it should prioritise rather than falling head over heels in love with it.

Reacting to the observations, one of the activists in the civil society Robert Mkwezalamba conceded that some members are aligning themselves to the leadership and suspected it could be a deliberate attempt to put themselves in the limelight for appointment consideration.

“On the one hand, those that are openly declaring their interest that they are on this [PP] side, may want those in the DPP to know that whether they like it or not, Joyce Banda is the state president and they are supporting her.

“On the other hand the association may be looked at as a way of trying to gesture at the President so that she could reward them with positions somewhere,” Mkwezalamba said.

On ensuring that the civil society is continues performing their watchdog role– criticising and commending where necessary– Mkwezalamba said the civil society would be meeting after the mourning period to chart the way forward.

“We have made it clear within ourselves that we need a forum to touch base and agree on the next step and our recent press conference was like sending out a message that the civil society is still here and should be consulted during the restructuring process of the government,” he said.

He further indicated that the civil society would forward the outstanding issues in the 20 point petition of the July 20 so that President Banda knows what to priotise.

“The 20 point July 20 [2011] petition have not been concluded; we will have to her a formal paper on that. Those that directly concerned the late President will be scrapped off so that current President addresses just the remaining ones,” Mkwezalamba said.

On his part, acting National Coordinator for Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) Macdonald Sembereka said it would be a complete miscalculation for the civil society to align themselves with a particular party.

“It is unacceptable for the civil society to lose their role. We are not supposed to be partisan as we need to provide checks and balances. Aligning oneself to a political party, therefore, is a miscalculation if at all anybody is doing that,” Sembereka said.

On whether this is done to influence appointments in the new government, Sembereka said it would be the wish of the civil society to see that all appointments are based on merit; nothing less.

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