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COMMUNIQU BY THE CSO GRAND COALITION FOR THE DEFENSE OF GOOD GOVERNANCE A CALL FOR ACCOUNTABLE SYSTEMS AND

LEADERSHIP
1.0. PREAMBLE

We, members of the CSO Grand Coalition, having gathered to assess the prevailing political and socio-economic living conditions of Malawi today; jointly come up with this communiqu, seeking as it were, to generate wider public debate from many other citizens, and to ignite rapid responsiveness from relevant duty-bearers. This is taking into consideration that, at the pace current incidences and trends are running, we might be missing out critical ingredients of accountability, transparency and responsiveness which are the very foundations of good governance. Recognizing that managing state affairs and institutions is by trust, we, CSOs are duty bound to speak against any traits or trends that depart of this understanding, and call upon the citizenry to hold appointed leadership and state institutions to account. This call is further premised on the understanding that those elected or appointed into state leadership take full commitment to uphold this principle. 2.0. ISSUES, CONCERNS AND OBSERVATIONS:

2.1. Status of Government-CSO Dialogue We, in the Grand Coalition, seek to remind government and its leadership that, we were once in a dialogue team, seeking to resolve some of the perennial challenges Malawi has been facing in governance, service delivery, rule of law, human rights and constitutional sectors. After the emergence of this new administration, the dialogue team from government had automatically fallen off, and that this administration

committed to reconstitute the dialogue team to sustain the spirit of the dialogue. However, one year down the lines, governments signs of commitment continue with the dialogue seem to be non-existent and the pace and zeal for such dialogue seem to have waned. This is against the background that most of the issues we were raising in the dialogue sessions have not materially changed, though acknowledging that the political climate and landscape have changed. We are still concerned with the issues contained in the dialogue document since 2011. We still need a roadmap and commitment to resolve these issues. There are of course emerging issues as well that we need to be dialogued on thereby making this dialogue process necessary. commitment for this dialogue process. 2.2 Declaration of assets We have noted many voices from several stakeholders on the need for the Presidency to publicly declare her assets. This demonstrates that Malawians want the Presidency to declare their assets. In addition, we urge the Presidency to desist from hiding behind legal technicalities but that out of goodwill and on moral grounds the President should set the pace and example to the rest of the public officials, by urgently and publicly declaring her assets failing which we shall mobilize the citizens to express their dissatisfaction with the Presidents unwillingness to declare her assets. We do not believe that making such declaration public would in any way negatively affect the holders of the assets but that it is a good signal of demonstrating transparency and accountable. We further caution advisors who are misleading the Speaker of Parliament and the President against doing the needful behind the ambiguity in law. We further call upon the Speaker of Parliament to use the powers of his office to make the declaration of the assets of the Presidency public. 2.3. Corruption and looting of public resources We therefore need to hear from government on the current status, sense of direction and

We have noted with great displeasure and sadness on the increasing levels of corruption in higher and lower ranks of government. The print media has published numerous cases of alleged misuse of public resources for personal intentions that have depleted Malawis coffers of billions and many more needed resources that would have contributed significantly to the reduction of poverty in Malawi just like these funds would have contributed to the effective and timely delivery of basic social services like health, education and many others impacting upon peoples lives. Corruption is a menace in our society as it makes few people rich at the expense of the majority poor whose livelihoods are denied through limited access to social services that are under-funded. Against this backdrop, we call upon the ACB and the police to swiftly investigate and bring to book all alleged perpetrators of colossal abuse of public funds. In doing this, we encourage all relevant stakeholders to be professional and avoid politicizing the processes. As CSOs, we firmly believe that the Malawi we need, minus corruption, would generate adequate resources to bring about reasonable quality of life to its citizens. 2.4. Electoral issues We acknowledge the preparatory and current processes towards 2014 tripartite elections. We applaud the reopening of some registration centers in those areas that were covered by phases 1-4 of the registration process. MEC has for sure been responsive to the call by many stake-holders that demanded reopening of the registration centers due to unprecedented challenges in the initial phase. We do hope that Malawian citizens of registration age would seize this opportunity to register in their large numbers so that they participate in the decision making processes of choosing our next future leaders to stir a better Malawi for all.

Despite these positive developments, we are convinced that that the road to 2014 tripartite elections has several shadows that we seek to highlight. Let all concerned stakeholders take heed and seek justice so that the electoral processes are free, fair, credible and transparent to all involved stakeholders. 2.4.1 Monopoly of MBC/TV by the ruling Party The abuse of our public broadcaster by politicians in power has been a challenge for all the four administrations we have had in Malawi. We are saddened that with multiparty politics clocking 20 years, and Malawi having been independent from colonial masters for close to 50 years, no political leadership has had the political will and capability to change this abuse and monopoly of the public broadcasters. We are worried that the abuse of MBC gives unequal opportunities to political players in their access to the electorates. The dominance of one party ahead of the polls is a disservice to the provision of a debating space for political visions and ideologies thereby depriving the electorate of information for informed choices. We, therefore, categorically encourage MACRA, MEC, and the ministry of information to do the needful to create equal platform for parties and individuals vying for public office. As the public broadcaster uses public resources to run, all taxpayers must have an access to its services. Thus, the political marginalization of other political players especially on the road towards elections is not only deplorable but also is at most unethical and an embarrassment to the preached ideals of Malawi being a democratic and open society. 2.4.2 Alleged cases of buying and selling of voters registration cards The media has been awash with allegations of practices going on in the areas that the voters registration exercise has already taken place. Buying and selling

of voters cards is crime according to the electoral laws. Whilst police have reported investigation processes in the alleged cases, these reported cases seem not to get concluded and no one has been brought to justice yet, this may take away the credibility of the electoral processes. We, therefore, encourage MEC and police to ensure that such cases are brought to their completion and that the findings of the investigations are published for citizens knowledge. We also encourage broader civic education on the electoral laws so that citizens are aware of the penalties for such malpractices. In addition, we challenge those who bring up such information of voter card buying and selling to approach many other stakeholders so that such stories are authenticated and followed through to their end. 2.5. Food insecurity We are surprised that Malawi continues to face acute food shortage regardless of huge subsidy in the production of food by government and its cooperating partners. Poor crop production practices, poor rainfall and climate change impacts notwithstanding, there is a reason to get worried that food insecurity is not being resolved. The reasons could be elsewhere but currently, stories of rotten maize have been in the media yet the general public is deprived of information about how the 70000 metric tones worth of maize got rotten and where it was thrown away. It is a shame that while it is a known fact that there are always households that face hunger problems annually, we can afford to see the staple food rotting in the silos. Allowing heavily subsidized maize to rot is to be irresponsible and is to abdicate from a national duty that must warrant serious punitive measures. Unfortunately, this is treated as a laughing matter when people die of hunger. We, therefore, we call upon the institution of a commission of enquiry to get down to the facts of the matter as a matter of urgency. We hold that Government owes

Malawians an explanation about the maize stock especially at a time that the ADMARC depots are empty. 2.5.1 High prices of maize We are also displeased with the ever-increasing prices of maize when its production is hugely subsidized. High prices imply scarcity of maize on the market. And if scarcity of maize is continuing even with huge budgetary support, Malawians need an honest discussion on the future of such interventions. Most Malawians cannot afford the prices of maize now and this will limit accessibility of the staple food thereby making such households vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition. It is sad that despite huge financial support to maize production, Government is spending now annually huge funds again for importing maize that is later sold at higher prices. Government should therefore put in place a contingent measure to ensure that the prices are controlled regardless that we are pursuing neo-liberal economic and trade policies with limited state intrusion to businesses. We believe that this is all about life and the state's primary duty is to preserve life. 2.5.2 Rationing of maize at ADMARC depots It is a known fact that September or October are not often times the acutest lean periods of food shortage in Malawi. However, the proposed rationing of 10 kg per person compounded by non-availability of maize in the market places is a serious worrisome experience in our country. We wonder what is going to happen from December to April before the next harvest season. This shows lack of effective planning and mitigation measure on the part of government. This might also be construed as a deliberate ploy by the Government and the ruling

party to promote their food distribution programme ahead of the polls as a campaign tool. We, therefore, encourage government to quickly put in place measures that will ensure availability of affordable maize on the market throughout Malawi to avert negative consequences of hunger. 2.6 High utility and other tariffs In general we are worried that the tariffs that are rising up with speed will soon choke most Malawians as they already cannot afford to pay for water and electricity using their current income levels. This is worsened by the fact that the aforesaid services are already poor, over-stretched, unreliable and yet too expensive. Beyond water and electricity tariffs, we are also worried that bank charges and police service charges are becoming unaffordable to most Malawians. We, therefore, propose that an independent commission should be established to monitor and regulate the tariff changes as they occur in Malawi, since we believe, there are no necessary and sufficient conditions or reasons for the ever-sky-rocketing of the tariffs. A monitoring system needs also to be put in place so that citizens are accorded an opportunity to give feedback on the services. Malawian citizens are tired of paying through their nose for dry taps and non existing electricity. 2.7. Lack of fiscal discipline in Government Recent media reports have clearly indicated that there is gross missing dimension on the fiscal discipline in government. Government is living beyond its means as evidenced by the reported over expenditures, yet there is nothing tangible to show that this over-expenditure has managed to transform the lives of ordinary Malawians. We wonder as to what are the roles of the government controlling officers or as to what has eclipsed them. Knowing very well that other than local tax payers money,

public funds are also generated from taxpayers money from cooperating development partners countries of origin. It is therefore critical that government leaders should show some levels of seriousness in dealing with this menace as it may result in losing donor confidence, support and cooperation which often times impacts negatively on the livelihoods of poor Malawians. This is why we find the Presidents insistence to wanton travel as per its statement made after meeting the Public Affairs Committees leadership as unacceptable and indicative of the Governments growing arrogance to constructive criticism. In pursuit of our call for collective responsibility and good stewardship, we urge parliament to fully exercise its oversight role by other things taking seriously the Auditor Generals reports so that what is not authorized by parliament as an expenditure, must not be allowed by default as this is creating a tradition of fiscal indiscipline with real or deliberate. We further call upon all well wishing Malawian to collective demand accountable government and systems, and further to fight against impunity and executive arrogance. 2.8. Critical issues in the Health sector We are happy that our current leadership is laying so many foundation stones either for new hospitals/ health facilities or for maternal health issues. Whilst this is commendable, the continued acute shortage of bed spaces and drugs in public hospitals need the urgent attention of government. Malawians are dying of curable diseases when it is possible to reverse this trend. Budgetary allocation to the health sector and the governance issues including human resources issues dogging the health sector need government's commitment to respect the right to health of Malawians citizens. Therefore, we cannot applaud 100% the current government leadership efforts when the already existing health facilities are understaffed and under stocked with drugs thereby making them dysfunctional. The desire for more health facilities

must correspond with the commitment to see them functional and responsive to the health issues affecting communities in Malawi. 2.9. Persistent exam leakages We are shocked that it has become almost a tradition that every year exams to be written are leaking before they are taken by prospective candidates. As a result, we are not sure that those who pass indeed qualify to pass. It is no wonder that some have gone up high in the education levels but with low levels of comprehension do not reflect their levels of education. We would like to ask MANEB, police and other stakeholders to ensure security of exams so that the results are credible in the eyes of parents, employers and student themselves. Mostly, importantly, we are of the view that persistent leakages may be just a symptom of a rotten education system. Government should therefore carefully examine the root causes of these persistent and massive examination leakages and ensure that MANEB is made independent to discharge its duties.

2.10. Persistent politicization of elevation of Chiefs We note that currently Malawi is riddled with chieftaincy wrangles arising from politicization of the chieftaincy elevating processes. It must be noted that chieftaincy is a hereditary structure and has genuine mandate arising from this heredity. If imposed on people due to politics, it polarizes communities, and subsequently leads to intra-community displacement and violent just like it is leading to so many court cases stalling the effectiveness of such leadership institution. We therefore, encourage government, especially now in time of multiparty politics to avoid politicizing this structure to ensure that peace and harmony prevail in the communities. As a long term solution, it is high time that the Chiefs Act should be reviewed to address the mischief in the current law.

2.11. Malawi-Tanzania lake dispute Civil Society is worried with the unfolding disturbing developments around the Lake dispute which are currently reported to have led to the expulsion of about hundreds of Malawians from Tanzania for allegedly not possessing valid permits. This signals how deep rooted the dispute might have gone. Unfortunately, despite efforts by the Vice President to talk with the affected groups, there hasnt been any further public Statement by the Government to explain the real context and extent of this incidence. In the absence of proper information, the general public may be compelled to speculate beyond the reality which in essence may be perceived as negation of Governments responsibility to provide accurate information about the state of affairs. We therefore demand a comprehensive report to give confidence and assurance among Malawians that our government is making effort to deal with the plight of the affected groups. Most importantly, we would want government to take steps to safeguard their left behind property and business interests. 2.12 National security lapses We are worried with the prevailing security lapses, which has not only led to loss of lives but also to loss of property. We note that security of a country is a critical incentive for both domestic and foreign investment especially at a time that Malawi is said to be recovering from economic woes. Incidences of theft in highly protected places such as State residences, Police Stations and banks exemplify the extent to which our security has deteriorated. We therefore demand that the Police should improve security for the safety of all citizens and their respective property. In the same vein, we call upon all citizens to play their rightful roles in promoting self security and those of others.

3.0.

CONCLUSION

In view of the preceding and taking into account many other issues that the Communiqu has not particularly addressed, we, the undersigned, would want to underscore to Government and all well wishing Malawians the following critical issues: 1. We call upon Government to exercise due responsibility in managing state affairs. We believe that the manner in which Government is managing scarcity of maize vis--vis the reported rotten 70 thousand metric tones leaves a lot to be desired. To the surprise of many, Government seems not to be interested in the matter by way of instituting a Commission of Enquiry thereby giving the impression that Government is concealing the truth about the matter. 2. At the rate at which corruption, theft, fraud and money laundering is going if media reports are anything to go by, raises serious questions about the seriousness of Government efforts to secure tax payers money (both local and international), and whether indeed the very limited tax payers purse is entrusted in the right hands. Since Government is seen to be irresponsible to tax payers, the Civil Society might consider mobilizing Malawians against payment of taxes in whatever form should Government not take steps to deal with the alarming looting of public resources. 3. As stakeholders, we believe that declaration of assets by holders of public office such as the presidency office, cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament and Senior Government officials is non-negotiable unless those holding such offices do so with ill intentions. However, we would want declaration of assets to be done both on entry and exit to promote transparency and accountability. We further urge parliament to use its wisdom and institutional mandate to extend the application of the proposed Asset Declaration Bill to among others, CEOs of Parasitatals.

4. Civil society believes that well management of utility tariffs and high cost of living is a responsibility that Government cannot run away from. Even in liberalized economies, Government has the duty to use transparent systems that seek to monitor and protect the interests of its citizens by ensuring that the tariffs imposed on the citizens are justified. We therefore call upon Government to institute mechanism to monitor the tariffs in order to ensure that they are reasonable and corresponding to services rendered otherwise some of the tariffs are a complete mockery to most average Malawians. Endorsed by: Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) Council for Non Governmental Organization (CONGOMA) Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP) Centre for Youth and Children Affairs (CEYCA) Citizens for Justice (CFJ) Civic and Political Space (CPS) Church and Society Livingstonia Synod Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN) Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) NGO Gender Coordination Network (NGO GCN) The Governance Platform (GP) Malawi Justice Economic Network (MEJN) Public Affairs Committee (PAC) Malawi Congress for Trade Unions (MCTU)