Another protest Aug 17? Mutharika warns NGOs they will be crushed

Mutharika. pic:afp

Pres Bingu wa
Mutharika of Malawi has
warned organisers of the
planned August 17 anti-
government demonstrations
that he will crush them right in the streets.

Departing from a prepared
speech when he opened a
hotel in the capital, Lilongwe,
constructed by Chinese
investors, Mutharika said demonstrations are not part
of the culture in Malawi.

“What happened on the 20th
and the 21st of July is not
acceptable in Malawi; it is anti-
Malawi, and it should not be repeated,” he said.

“I must say
once again that those
responsible for perpetrating
the violence on the 20th of
July, wherever you’re hiding
I’ll find you and you’ll have to answer.”

Mutharika said he doesn’t care
if he is accused of threatening
the civil society or opposition
leaders because “you have
attacked government and government will deal with

The 77-year-old economist-
turned-politician’s warning
comes amid threats of a
replica of the July 20 demonstrations during which
thousands of Malawians
poured into the streets to
protest against deteriorating
political and economic

At least 19 people were shot dead by police as
they tried to break up the
demonstrations that had
degenerated into looting.

But organisers say all is set for
further street demonstrations on August the 17th because
the president is unwilling to
respond to their demands.

“Following the failure by the
Malawi Government to
address the concerns raised by Malawians through the civil
society grouping as presented
on 20th July 2011, We write to
inform your various
organisations and entities that
the follow-up demonstrations for 17th August 2011 have
finally been endorsed at a
meeting convened in
Lilongwe,” reads a statement
published Thursday by Robert
Nkwezalamba, Secretary General of the Malawi
Congress of Trade Unions
(MCTU), the official spokesman
of the August the 17th

Nkwezalamba said the initial agreement is that people in all regions and districts will
converge in one place and
conduct themselves peacefully
while waiting responses from
the Head of State and Government in particular for
an initial 48 hours “subject to
extension depending on
availability of response or

But Pres Mutharika, in his Lilongwe Thursday address,
said he couldn’t “dictated to”
by unelected civil society

“I’ll not allow this country to
be taken over by NGOs,” he said. “NGOs are not elected.
Where were the general
elections to elect NGOs?”

Mutharika said it was only
him who was elected to run

“I have been elected by 2.9 millions Malawians. I,
alone, have the authority to
run this county and I’ll run it.”

But despite the presidential
threats of a duel in the streets
organisers of the August 17 demonstrations remain

Rafiq Hajat, head of
the Blantyre-based think-tank
Institute for Policy Interaction
(IPI), said Mutharika has no
legal mandate to ban demonstrations.

“We’re exercising our
constitutional right to demand
accountability from our
leaders via peaceful
expression of our concerns in peaceful gatherings,” he said.

Hajat said civil society leaders
have “no guns or bullets”. He
said Mutharika’s is displaying
elitist arrogance “reminiscent
of the French Revolution where the aristocracy
displayed detachment from
the needs of the people”.

He added: “Unfortunately the
real world is very different.
All we’re asking is we believe a better Malawi is possible and we’re asking all our leaders
why they are failing to
deliver it.”

The civil society leaders say
the Mutharika administration can avert another wave of
mass protests if government
addresses their demands.

Banda, Executive Director of
Malawi Watch, said Mutharika
has to provide a road-map on how he intends to address the
civil society concerns.

“What we’re looking for is the
president must change his
executive arrogance,” he said.

“He is clearly exhibiting that he is too arrogant to
appreciate there are no drugs
in hospitals, there’s no fuel in
the country and there’s not
forex (foreign exchange
reserves) in banks.”

According to the organisers,
the July 17 demonstrations
will initially take 48 hours
during which they will wait
for a response on their
demands from government. If the response will not come
the organisers threaten to
carry on indefinitely.

(I blog these because they fulfil what Prophet Bushiri prophesied in May, 2011, see here)

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