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Honeymoon is over for president Joyce Banda

Civil society organisations (CSOs) have asked Malawi Government to urgently address various issues affecting the livelihoods of Malawians, including the current drug crisis and the social-economic challenges.

The CSOs under the Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) declared on Thursday that the honeymoon is over for the Joyce Banda administration and that it has to move to correct the situation as well as go back to address the issues raised in the July 20 2011 petition.

But in an interview later, Minister of Information and Civic Education Moses Kunkuyu said government has not abandoned the post-July 20 2011 road map. He said what is required is continued dialogue between the CSOs and government to address issues affecting Malawians together.

Addressing a news conference in Lilongwe on Thursday, HRCC board chairperson Undule Mwakasungula said when Banda ascended to the presidency last April, the CSOs expected things to improve, but observed that almost nine months down the road, the situation has remained the same.

“There was a lot of excitement. The coming in of the new administration gave hope to this nation, but it seems things are not moving. We are now saying that the honeymoon is ending, we can’t continue being spectators,” said Mwakasungula, responding to a question on why the CSOs have been silent since President Banda succeeded the late Bingu wa Mutharika in line with constitutional order on April 7 2012.

He admitted that CSOs are to blame for abandoning the road map on dialogue as set out after the July 20 2011 petition.

Mwakasungula said the road map should also take into account issues raised by the Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) in its January 17 2013 petition and that all actors and players should take up their roles to ensure that it is delivered according to set targets.

During the press briefing, the CSO leaders also raised several issues, including the current acute shortage of drugs in public hospitals, the shortfalls in the Economic Recovery Plan (ERP), the high cost of living, the Malawi-Tanzania dispute over Lake Malawi borderline and the appointment of some CSO leaders into government positions.

Kunkuyu acknowledged that almost all the issues raised by HRCC were important to Malawians and are at the heart of government. But he said that people have to appreciate the work required to move the country out of “the economic dungeon”.

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