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human rights row in Malawi
Kondani Magombo, The Chronicle (Malawi)
October 30, 2006
for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) has lashed out at Information
Minister Patricia Kaliati for accusing Malawi's Civil Society Organisations
(CSOs) of "poking their nose in Zimbabwe's problems" saying the
Minister needs civic education to understand that the issue of Zimbabwe
is a SADC problem.
Director Undule Mwakasungula said this Monday in an interview with
'The Chronicle' in reaction to remarks made by Minister Kaliati
Friday last week. Ms Kaliati accused civil society organisations
of intervening in matters that she said do not concern Malawi instead
of looking at own problems back home.
on Zimbabwe's problems when we have our own problems here? They
[Zimbabweans] have their own media, civil society etc. The problems
of Zimbabwe are for the people of Zimbabwe," said Minister Kaliati,
referring to the joint press conference CHRR had in Malawi's capital
Lilongwe with a Zimbabwe civil society body, Crisis
in Zimbabwe Coalition, three weeks ago.
But the CHRR Executive
Director said Monday that he was disappointed at how the Minister
was viewing the Zimbabwe issue, which he said was a problem for
the whole Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
"Kaliati is mixing
up things," said Mr Mwakasungula. "She needs to be civic educated:
Human Rights issues know no border, no boundaries. It is universal.
Zimbabwe's problem is a SADC issue. We are talking about SADC integration;
but how can this be achieved and how can countries in the region
prosper economically if there's no peace in other countries?" queried
He further stressed
that civil society would continue to comment on any issue, be it
local or be it from across the borders because human rights were
a global issue. "Just because Kaliati doesn't want to talk about
human rights violations in Zimbabwe, doesn't mean we should all
remain quiet," said Mr Mwakasungula.
On a lighter note,
Minister Kaliati in her attack on civil society further said it
would not be wrong to conclude that civil society was behind the
theft of the Mugabe signpost on the Midima Road, which was named
after the Zimbabwean President.
CHRR and Crisis
in Zimbabwe Coalition three weeks ago told the press in Lilongwe
that SADC leaders had failed the people of Zimbabwe as they experience
the most trying times of the "collapse of the socio-economic and
political set-up" in that country.
A renowned Lilongwe-based
activist who preferred anonymity concurred with CHRR and dismissed
Ms Kaliati's remarks as "very unfortunate" and contradictory as
regards international relations. "The whole world has now become
a small village. There is no way one can say what concerns Zimbabwe
is none of our concern. If the Minister really means it, then why
did [Malawi] President [Bingu wa] Mutharika spend time campaigning
for Taiwan's readmission into the UN grouping? Was that not poking
one's nose in other people's business?"
did the President participate in security matters concerning Côte
d'Ivoire just recently? And why are SADC countries concerned about
Darfur? Kaliati needs to be schooled on such matters otherwise I
think she is contradicting Mutharika in his involvement in matters
concerning other countries other than Malawi," said the activist,
who runs an organisation that fights for the women's and children's
Mugabe's Zimbabwe government, which is receiving heavy criticism
throughout the world for its lack of compassion for human rights
issues, has banished private media, many civil society organisations
and all other entities fighting for democratic principles that seem
to be at odds with Mr Mugabe's policies.
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