Saturday, December 4, 2010

Mutharika victimisation of VP may steer GBV

The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) on Thursday said that the mistreatment being eked onto the country's vice president, Joyce Banda, by the Mutharika government is not exemplary and that it might serve as a license for men to abuse their wives.

The sentiment was aired by the MHRC's commissioner, Desmond Kaunda, at a press conference held at St. Andrews CCAP Church in Mzuzu which was organised to brief the press on the upcoming International Human Rights Day on the 10th
of December.

"When Joyce Banda was chosen, the nation endorsed that and I believe DPP won because of that pairing, in addition to that, government has been advocating for women empowerment and when it turns and victimises the vice president, the nation wonders," said Kaunda.

The civil society has been complaining about what it takes as victimisation of Joyce Banda with the state controlled broadcaster MBC giving the veep a blackout and Mutharika stripping her of some honours and endowing them on his wife, Calista.

Government has since denied the victimisation with its spokesperson, Hetherwick Ntaba, calling the alleged rift between president and vice "a myth." Ntaba argued that the vice president's office is fully funded and that she herself has not complained yet.

The International Human Rights Day this year will focus on the rights of the minorities and this year's theme is: "Speak Up...Stop Discrimination."

The commission, through a statement signed by MHRC's Executive, Aubrey Mvula, has listed the disabled, women, racial and ethnic groups, the diseased, religious groupings, indigenous people, linguistic groups and migrants as some of the minorities to get the focus.

Asked why the commission is silent on the linguistic oppression that is happening in Malawi where one tribal language which was forcibly institutionalised is still allowed to be dominant and taught in schools, one of the panellists, Noel Mbowela who is also a political analyst, said the problem was with the way it was chosen.

"The idea of one language is good for a nation but the way Chichewa was chosen is what is questionable," said Mbowela.

Other issues raised at the press conference include the silent culture among Malawians which columnist and human rights activist, Emily Mkamanga, said was deplorable. She gave an example of the near arrest and mauling of Blantyre Newspapers reporter, Mike Chipalasa and how other media houses never took up the issue.

Mkamanga also said that despite the many protests and advice that people give the government it seems government is not ready to listen and that it is "arrogant."

Mbowela laid the blame on recycled politicians where he said many politicians that take on the reins of power still believe in the Kamuzu Banda philosophies.

Kaunda also bemoaned the divide and rule culture in Malawi where government allegedly "palm oils" some judges, journalists and clergy to bring about confusion.

"In the Bible we know that pride and arrogance come before the fall," said Kaunda.

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