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NGO Bill - Index of Opinion and Analysis
stops NGO prayers
Pilirani Semu-Banda, Nation-Online
October 18, 2004
prayers which a group of NGOs organised in Blantyre last Saturday to seek
divine intervention against an amended NGO Bill in Zimbabwe failed to
take place following President Bingu wa Mutharika’s last minute decision
which led to police barring entry to the BAT ground scheduled, venue of
Mutharika is meeting
10 NGO leaders this morning to ask them not to hold any prayers or demonstrations
for fear of destabilising Malawi’s relations with Zimbabwe.
One of the organisers
of the prayers Rafiq Hajat said he was summoned to the office of the Commissioner
of Police (South) together with another organiser Emmie Chanika where
they were told to cancel the prayers until they meet the President.
"But while we
were locked up in the meeting which lasted for 90 minutes, a group of
police officers were deployed to the BAT ground to stop the prayers,"
said Hajat. He said although the police convened a meeting with the NGO
leaders, they had already decided to stop the meeting. "It was already
a forgone conclusion and not negotiable and the meeting was a cynical
ruse to keep the main organisers occupied while their support systems
were being quietly dismantled in the background," said Hajat. He
said Malawi is still a police state which is "under polite democratic
Human Rights Consultative
Committee (CHRR) national coordinator Rodgers Newa confirmed that 10 NGO
leaders will meet Mutharika at 10AM Monday. Newa said the people who wanted
to hold the prayers in Blantyre might have lost patience because an earlier
demonstration against the Zimbabwe issue had been postponed after the
President indicated that he was interested in the matter but that he could
not meet them then as he was going to the United Nations General Assembly
in the USA. "We didn’t hear anything until Sunday at around 11AM
Other NGOs were losing
patience and they wanted to go on with the prayers," he said Sunday.
Police spokesman Willie Mwaluka refused to comment on the matter, saying
he wanted to find out what happened from the "people on the ground".
The amended NGO law
in Zimbabwe is reported to be aimed at impinging on freedom of association
by stopping NGOs from getting funding from international bodies.
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