• Wed. Aug 23rd, 2023

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HRDC got it wrong

Aug 23, 2023

A few days ago, the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) issued a statement in which they raised the prospect of advocating for an early election unless President Lazarus Chakwera takes decisive action.

The coalition’s demands include suspending international trips, addressing the economic challenges, and removal of certain ministers and senior government officials whose performance is deemed unsatisfactory.

In their assessment, President Chakwera is urged to dismiss underperforming ministers, the Secretary to the President and Cabinet (SPC), as well as advisors, principal secretaries, and directors.

Outlined in a statement endorsed by Gift Trapence, the chairperson of the coalition, HRDC is urging the government to formulate and share a comprehensive, actionable crisis plan.

HRDC’s assertion that Malawi is in a crisis appears to be an exaggeration that doesn’t entirely align with the prevailing reality. While it remains undeniable that every nation grapples with its own set of challenges, characterising Malawi’s situation as a crisis might seem to be stretching the narrative a bit too far.

The term “crisis” inherently conjures images of dire and immediate threats. However, despite the presence of certain issues that warrant attention, it is debatable whether these concerns truly merit such an alarmist description.

While acknowledging the problems at hand, it’s prudent to assess whether the severity of the situation justifies the term “crisis.”
Additionally, the demand for an early election based on HRDC’s stipulated conditions might not be the most pragmatic avenue for addressing the current challenges. It is worth noting that President Lazarus Chakwera’s administration is already taking substantive steps to tackle some of the very issues raised by HRDC.

In fact, a significant portion of President Chakwera’s international engagements stem from ongoing discussions with the International Monetary Fund regarding the Extended Credit Facility. These discussions underscore a commitment to charting a positive course for the nation’s economic recovery.

Proposing hasty actions such as the immediate removal of ministers and government officials could potentially disrupt the coherent approach needed to effectively combat the existing challenges. Swift and abrupt changes may well disrupt the continuity essential for addressing these issues in a comprehensive and sustainable manner.

HRDC’s call for a well-defined and actionable crisis plan for economic recovery holds merit and is undoubtedly necessary. Designing a comprehensive plan that delineates short-term, medium-term, and long-term strategies can serve as a guiding light, offering direction and transparency to the public.

Such transparency fosters a renewed sense of confidence, assuring the citizenry that substantive steps are being taken to ameliorate the situation.

Nevertheless, harbouring the notion that the nation’s economy can be rectified overnight may indeed border on undue sanguinity. The process of economic recovery is a gradual and intricate endeavor, necessitating multifaceted strategies and the cooperation of various stakeholders.

It remains essential for civil society organisations like HRDC to proactively engage with the government and advocate for positive change. However, the demands outlined in their statement should ideally be well-grounded and commensurate with the current circumstances.

An excessive label of “crisis” could inadvertently weaken the potential impact of their advocacy, potentially hindering their ability to garner the necessary support and cooperation from both the general populace and the government.

While HRDC’s laudable intent of holding the government accountable and pushing for enhancements is acknowledged, a broader perspective reveals that the declaration of Malawi being in a crisis might not precisely mirror the current state of affairs.
Collaboration between civil society organizations and the government remains pivotal for the nation’s advancement.

However, this collaboration should be based on a pragmatic assessment of the challenges confronting the nation.

In the interest of promoting productive discourse, it is imperative to veer away from sensationalising the issues at hand. Redirecting focus toward practical and effective solutions that ultimately benefit all citizens should be the collective aspiration.

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