Civil society organizations (CSOs) have refused to go into dialogue with government on a number of issues happening in the country, barely hours to the dialogue slated for Wednesday September 19, 2018.
Under the banner Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), the CSOs vowed before journalists in Lilongwe that they are not attending the meeting, citing lack of commitment on government’s part to adhere to some of their conditions.
While the government team indicated it was set to have the meeting, the Coalition’s vice chairperson Gift Trapence told the media on Wednesday that they are not comfortable proceeding with the dialogue.
“Government has ignored terms of engagement proposed by HRDC by offering vague assurances that do not offer any hopeful prospects for fruitful dialogue.
“We strongly believe that government has hidden agenda to sabotage and derail our planned nationwide demonstrations against culture of corruption and impunity which will go ahead on 21 September, 2018.
Presidential advisor on non-governmental organizations Mabvuto Bamusi expressed disappointment with a conduct by the CSOs by rejecting the dialogue.
“On this particular day of dialogue, a contingent of high powered government delegation of senior officials had convened at the Office of President and Cabinet waiting for a signal from the CSO leaders so that the dialogue meeting could begin but they never showed up.
“This is not the first time. Twice in a row, the CSOs never showed up to the dialogue table. Government is seriously concerned with this behavior and we are left with an impression that these CSOs are not interested in the dialogue,” he said.
The CSOs requested presence of President Peter Mutharika, finance minister, information minister, chief secretary to the Government, attorney general, inspector general of police, director generals of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority, Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority and Malawi Broadcasting Corporation at the dialogue meeting.
Bamusi, however, described the demand by the CSOs “expecting too much”, saying the senior members including the president could not avail themselves to the meeting