* HRDC chairperson Trapence further claims the government is suppressing peaceful demonstrations
* And interfering with the media’s rightful role, and intruding into private expression on social media
Leston Phakamisa, Contributor
Social media commentators have questioned the morality of human rights activist Gift Trapence to accuse President Lazarus Chakwera and his Tonse Alliance government of failing to manage the economy and stifling people’s liberties.
In his end of year statement, the Human Rights Defenders’ Coalition (HRDC) chairperson accused the Tonse Alliance government of stifling civil liberties, which he said was a stark contrast to the promises made during its ascent to power.
Trapence further claimed that the government is suppressing peaceful demonstrations, interfering with the media’s rightful role, and intruding into private expression on social media.
But another human rights activist John Unandi Banda seemed to differ with Trapence, arguing that it is actually during the Chakwera-led administration that Malawians have enjoyed their rights to the fullest.
Unandi Banda said Chakwera, has over the past three years, reset Malawi’s human rights record by capitalising on the goodwill from Malawians and the global community.
“President Chakwera has repeatedly advocated for justice, equality and dignity for all Malawians irrespective of race, gender, religion, political affiliation and tribe, among others.
“Previously, and before the Malawi leader took over the government, Malawi’s human rights record sunk to record low on the back of human rights abuses and poor governance which led to many development partners freezing their aid taps to Malawi.”
Unandi Banda cited the year 2011 under the Bingu wa Mutharika administration when the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) withheld the US$350 million Compact Programme aid package over poor governance and human rights abuses.
He reiterated his call for President Chakwera to ignore destructive criticisms from disgruntled civil society organizations and opposition parties and he also wondered by CSO leaders and opposition parties do not approach the Head of State whenever they have suggestions and proposals on how the country can address its social and economic problems.
His sentiments were echoed by Chief Commissioner of the Islamic Commission for Justice and Freedom (ICJF), Shaibu A. Ajassie, who urged President Chakwera to distance himself from opportunists who are parading themselves as concerned civil society organizations (CSOs) and human rights activists.
Ajassie also condemned the tendency of certain CSOs and individuals who are allegedly ‘cooking up’ to tarnish the record of the incumbent government.
“I must repeat — it’s not all the pieces of advice that are worth taking. Some pieces of advice can break this nation. As such, I would like to beg you to use your wisdom to handle national matters. Take only the advice that resonates well with your agenda for transforming this country,” he said then.
In his reaction to HRDC statement, a Mzuzu-based social media commentator Lowani Chisi suspected that Trapence is disgruntled and frustrated because President Chakwera did not give him a position in his government as a reward for fighting the dictatorial rule of Peter Mutharika.
“I am made to believe that Trapence expected that Chakwera would appoint him a Cabinet minister. Probably, he could have sobered up,” Chisi said.