Thursday, April 30, 2015


29 APRIL, 2015
Greetings my fellow Malawians.
I am here to inform you that the Malawi Electoral Commission has planned to hold Local Government By-elections on June 23, 2015. The by-elections will be in five wards where seats have become vacant. The vacancies have arisen due to the untimely demise of incumbent Councillors.
May I take the opportunity to convey condolences from the Malawi Electoral Commission to the bereaved families, friends and relatives, political parties and all people affected by the passing away of our Late Councillors. May their souls rest in
eternal peace.
The five wards are as follows:
 Luchenza Ward in Luchenza Municipal Council
 Zomba Central Ward in Zomba City Council
 Msikisi Ward in Mangochi Town Council
 Chibanja Ward in Mzuzu City Council
 Khwawa Ward in Karonga District Council
The Electoral Commission is mandated by law to conduct by-elections in order to fill vacancies so that the electorate can continue having representation in those councils.
Other details about the processes for the by-elections are as follows:
Voter Verification and Registration
In preparation for the by-elections, the Commission will open centres for both voter verification and registration from 8 to 12 May 2015. Centres will be open from 8AM to 4PM including weekends.

All registered voters for the May 20, 2014 elections, whether they voted or not, will be required to go and verify their details in the voters’ roll at the centre where they registered. If they transferred during the May 2014 elections, they should verify at the new centre they transferred to.
Registered voters who lost their voter certificates should go to the centre where they registered to get a replacement certificate that will enable them to vote on June 23, 2015.
The Commission is going to register first-time voters who have attained the age of 18 after May 20, 2014 or will turn 18 by June 23, 2015. The Commission will not register anyone who was eligible to register during the last registration exercise but failed to do so for whatever reason or reasons. The Commission will also not accept transfers.
Ladies and Gentlemen, take note that people from other wards where elections are not taking place will not be allowed to register.
At this point, I urge all those who will be involved in managing the registration exercise to ensure that this is adhered to.

May I also appeal to traditional leaders to ensure that they give identification letters only to persons from the ward where the elections are taking place. Giving false witness to enable those who are not eligible to register is an electoral offence.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is only proper that I should remind you that it is a crime to register more than once. If found you risk prosecution and jail term of up to two years and a fine of five hundred thousand kwacha (K500,000.00).All political parties, independent candidates, and organisations accredited to observe these elections are asked to submit names of their monitors for registration to the respective Ward Returning Officer (WRO) before 3 May, 2015.
Names of monitors for polling should be submitted before 10 June 2015.
All contesting political parties and independent candidates will be allowed to have a maximum of two monitors per registration centre.
May I appeal to political parties, candidates and Civil Society Organisations that they should place monitors with numeracy and literacy skills in order for them to monitor objectively and effectively. These monitors should also come from the area surrounding the registration centre to be able to ascertain that only eligible people register.
Nomination of candidates
Nomination papers will be available from April 30, 2015 and can be collected from the Ward Returning Officers in the affected wards or the District Commissioners.
Aspiring candidates should be registered voters and must have attained the age of 21 on the day of submitting nomination papers which is on 23 May, 2015. They should also be able to speak and read English.
Candidates who were duly nominated and contested during the May 2014 elections still have to collect nomination forms because this is a fresh election.
The nomination fees still remain at K20,000 for male candidates and K15,000 for female candidates.
The nomination fees should be deposited at the nearest Malawi Savings Bank branch before submission of nomination papers. Bank details will be made available at the time of collecting nomination papers. The deposit slips have to be filled in triplicate; one slip will be retained by the bank, the other by the candidate while the third slip should be attached to the nomination paper as proof of payment.
The WROs will receive the Nomination Papers from all candidates on 23 May, 2015 in the respective offices of Ward Returning Officers.
The official campaign period will start on May 24, 2015. As per requirement of the law, campaign shall end at 06.00AM on 21 June, 2015.
Since these are by-elections, the rules and regulations that were made during the Tripartite Elections will still be in force.
Candidates will be expected to observe the Political Parties and Candidates Code of Conduct which was agreed upon and signed for by all political parties and candidates during the 2014 Tripartite Elections.
During this period I urge all candidates and political parties to conduct issue based campaign. They should dwell on issues. It is our anticipation that this approach will be maintained and even improved.
A special appeal goes to traditional and faith leaders to ensure that they encourage their subjects to participate in electoral activities. They should not show favouritism and create no-go-zones for political parties or candidates. Rather, they should encourage their subjects to attend political rallies of all candidates during the campaign period in order to make informed choices.
Polling and vote counting
My fellow Malawians, polling will take place on 23 June 2015 starting from 6.00AM up to 6.00 PM.
Vote counting will start immediately after polling at the centres and results shall be tallied at the Teacher Development Centres (TDCs). The Commission will announce results on 24 June, 2015 at the tally centre to be established for the by elections.
The Commission is committed to deliver credible elections. It is our anticipation that all stakeholders will support this noble cause. Officials should treat all political players fairly. They should not show partisanship. Leaders of political parties should encourage women to participate in electoral processes.
My fellow citizens, in conclusion I hereby announce that the Commission will hold stakeholders meetings and launch the by-elections in the five wards on Thursday, April 30, 2015 from 8.30AM as follows:
 Luchenza Ward in Luchenza Municipal Council at Luchenza Primary School Teacher Development Centre (TDC)
 Zomba Central Ward in Zomba City Council at
Zomba Community Hall
 Msikisi Ward in Mangochi Town Council at Habitat
 Chibanja Ward in Mzuzu City Council at Mndeba
Private School.
 Khwawa Ward in Karonga District Council at Khwawa CDSS.
The Commission is inviting all stakeholders including leaders of political parties, aspiring candidates, leaders of civil society organizations, traditional leaders, faith leaders, and the general public to attend. During these meetings the Commission will give detailed information on the by-elections and also release the full calendar for the by-elections.
May God, the Almighty bless you and bless our nation.

Thank you

Monday, April 27, 2015

South African Government responds to the decision by the Nigerian Government

Media Statement

26 April 2015

The South African Government takes note that the outgoing Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has recalled its Acting High Commissioner to South Africa. A government resorts to such an extraordinary diplomatic step to express outrage at actions or behaviour of another government.

We are not sure which actions or behaviour of the South African Government the Nigerian Government is protesting. It is only Nigeria that has taken this unfortunate and regrettable step.  If this action is based on the incidents of attacks on foreign nationals in some parts of our country, it would be curious for a sisterly country to want to exploit such a painful episode for whatever agenda.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has just returned from Indonesia to attend the Africa-Asia Summit and the 60th Anniversary of the historic Bandung Conference.  At no stage did the Nigerian delegation present at that gathering, expressed its intention to formally raise the issue with the South African side.

South Africa remains committed to a strong bond of friendship and bilateral relations with Nigeria.  It is for this reason that when 84 of our citizens perished on Nigerian soil, we did not blame the Nigerian Government for the deaths and more than nine (9) months delay in the repatriation of the bodies of our fallen compatriots, or for the fact that when these bodies eventually returned, they were in a state that they could not be touched or viewed as required by our burial practice.

We will raise our concerns through diplomatic channels with the new administration that will assume office in Nigeria next month.

The South African Government, as well as all political parties, religious organisations, non-governmental organisations, business, sports fraternities, including artists, musicians  and ordinary people of South Africa, have been decisive and unequivocal in condemning and rejecting the attacks on foreign nationals.

Through our interventions, relative calm and order has been restored. We are encouraged by the solidarity our country continues to receive from other African countries and the international community. We shall also continue to support and not blame the Nigerian Government as it battles to deal with Boko Haram that continues to kill many innocent civilians. We hope that the more than 200 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram will someday be reunited with their families.

Enquiries: Mr Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for DIRCO, 082 884 5974


OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road
Rietondale, Pretoria

Open Letter to the African Commission Regarding the Xenophobic Attacks in South Africa

23 April, 2015
Dear Chair and Commissioners of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights,
We, the undersigned civil society organisations, write to you as concerned organisations and citizens of the African continent to raise concern about the xenophobic attacks currently occurring, mainly against African foreign nationals, in the Republic of South Africa. We come to you, as the body responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights in the African continent, requesting you to call upon the South African government to take concrete steps to end these attacks, prosecute perpetrators and protect foreign nationals living in their territory from violations of their human rights, including the right to life.

As civil society organisations based in and working on human rights issues on the African continent, we are particularly concerned about the loss of lives, injuries to persons, and damage to private property and the dignity of foreign nationals living in South Africa, which are a grave violation of their rights protected under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter). The right to life, not to be subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and the right to strict equality before the law are non-derogable rights – not dependent on a person’s status in a country.  The status of foreign nationals who are victims of the attacks in South Africa is therefore irrelevant.

We note statements of several governments, including the South African government, to provide assistance for individuals leaving the country. While those who wish to leave should be assisted to do so, the solution to the violence should not be to repatriate all foreign nationals, but to ensure an environment in the country in which their rights are protected. Furthermore, the acts of those carrying out attacks against foreign nationals should not be rewarded by assisting them to achieve their objective of ridding South Africa of foreign nationals. In this regard, we remind all States of the provisions of Article 12 of the African Charter which prohibits the mass expulsion of foreign nationals, including mass expulsion aimed at national groups.

We are further concerned by comments made by persons in positions of authority and influence which may amount to incitement to violence and the role that these play in perpetuating xenophobia. While some statements have been made to condemn the violence, we are concerned that not enough concrete steps are being taken to prevent such attacks, prosecute perpetrators, protect foreign nationals and prevent the mass coerced exodus of foreign nationals from the country.

We, the undersigned organisations, request the African Commission to call upon the government of South Africa to:

-   Protect foreign nationals from further attacks, including by increasing police presence in high-risk areas and immediately implementing conflict resolution initiatives in these areas involving the Department of Home Affairs.

- Provide urgent humanitarian assistance to internally displaced foreign nationals in the country, including counselling for trauma.

-  Bring perpetrators of violence against foreign nationals to justice. To facilitate such  prosecutions the Department of Justice should set up special courts, as was done during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, to deal with all cases of violence against foreign nationals in a bid to ease the burden on the courts. Information on accessing these courts should be widely disseminated.

-  Investigate and bring to justice the instigators behind the perpetration of the violence.

- Condemn unequivocally comments by persons in positions of authority and influence which may amount to incitement to violence.

-  Effectively engage the broadest possible South African public, in order to curb and eradicate xenophobia and xenophobic violence. These messages should be repeated, constantly re-iterated and not only heard after crises moments. They should be accessible, in local languages, should be expressed directly to communities, and should involve local leaders.

In 2008, the xenophobic attacks left at least 62 dead, hundreds wounded, and contributed to the displacement of 100,000 people or more. Following those attacks the South African Human Rights Commission prepared a report[i] with their findings and recommendations. We call on you to remind the South African government of this report and call upon the government to immediately implement the recommendations found therein.

In addition, we request you to call upon governments of other countries to ensure steps are taken to prevent reprisals against South African nationals in their territories. International organisations should also assist with humanitarian assistance for internally displaced foreign nationals in South Africa and those returning to their own countries following the attacks.

Submitted by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre
Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh
Executive Director
Signed by the following concerned Civil Society Organisations based in and working on human rights issues on the African continent: 
  1. Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR – South Africa)
  2. SADC Lawyers Association (SADC LA)
  3. Legal Resources Centre (LRC), South Africa
  4. Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, Zimbabwe
  5. The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
  6. Legal Assistance Centre (LAC), Namibia
  7. Women Advocates’ Research and Documentation Center (WARDC), Nigeria
  8. Africa Legal Aid (AFLA)
  9. Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC)
  10. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ – Kenya)
  11. Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Malawi
  12. Centre for Development of People (CEDEP), Malawi
  13. The Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL), Sierra Leone
  14. The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)
  15. The Children Education Society (CHESO), Tanzania
  16. Coalition Ivoirienne pour la Cour Pénale Internationale (CI CPI), Cote d’Ivoire
  17. Réseau Equitas Côte d’Ivoire (REQCI), Cote d’Ivoire
  18. Groupe de Travail sur les Instruments Internationaux (GT2I)
  19. International Refugees Rights Initiative (IRRI)
  20. Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI), Uganda
  21. The Institute for Security Studies (ISS)
  22. Human Rights First Rwanda Association (HRFRA), Rwanda
  23. The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town, South Africa
  24. Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD), Zambia
  25. Initiative for Civil Liberties (ICL), Zambia
  26. The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA), South Africa
  27. Engender Rights Centre for Justice (ERCJ), Zambia
  28. Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS (KELIN), Kenya
  29. Namibia Women’s Health Network (NWHN), Namibia
  30. Centre for Human Rights Education Advice and Assistance (CHREAA), Malawi
  31. The AIDS and Rights Alliance of Southern Africa (ARASA)
  32. Transbantu Association Zambia (TBZ), Zambia
  33. Zimbabwe Association for Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation of the Offender (ZACRO)
  34. Women and Law in Southern Africa, Mozambique (WLSA – Mozambique)
  35. Women and Law in Southern Africa, Zimbabwe (WLSA – Zimbabwe)
  36. Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre (TLAC), South Africa
  37. Centre for Girls and Interaction (CEGI), Malawi
  38. Associação Justiça Paz e Democracia (AJPD), Angola
  39. Pan African Positive Women’s Coalition – Zimbabwe
  40. Pan African Positive Women’s Coalition – Southern Africa and Indian Ocean Islands
  41. Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), South Africa
  42. Lawyers Forum for Human Rights (LFHR), Malawi
  43. Coalition for the Prevention of Unsafe Abortion (COPUA), Malawi
  44. Ladder for Rural Development (LAFORD), Malawi
  45. Association of Human Rights Organisations (AHURIO), Uganda
  46. Sexual Rights Centre (SRC), Zimbabwe
  47. Associação de Reintegração dos Jovens/Crianças na Vida Social (SCARJoV), Angola
  48. Associação, Mulher, Lei e Desenvolvimento (MULEIDE), Mozambique
  49. Matrix Support Group, Lesotho
  50. African Development and Peace Initiative (ADPI)
  51. Paralegal Advisory Service Institute (PASI), Malawi
  52. The AIDS Foundation of South Africa (AFSA), South Africa
  53. Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA), Botswana
  54. Treatment Advocacy and Literacy Campaign (TALC), Zambia
  55. Southern Africa HIV & AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS)
  56. Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria (CHR), South Africa
  57. Temba Community Development Services, South Africa
  58. Omunga, Angola
  59. AIDS Legal Network (ALN), South Africa
  60. Communities’ Initiatives for Holistic Social Advancement (CHISA), Malawi
  61. Protection Enfants Sida (PES), Democratic Republic of Congo
  62. Ndifuna Ukwazi (NU), South Africa
  63. Malawi Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV and AIDS (MANERELA+), Malawi
  64. Legal Resources Foundation, Zambia
  65. ENDA Santé
  66. Panos Institute Southern Africa
  67. Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Nigeria
  68. Darfur Women’s Action Group (DWAG), Sudan
  69. Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC), Nigeria
  70. Affirmative Action Initiative for Women (NCAA), Nigeria
  71. Coalition of Eastern NGOs (CENGOS), Nigeria
  72. Nigerian Coalition for the ICC (NCICC), Nigeria
  73. Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), Nigeria
  74. Youth for a Child in Christ (YOCIC), Zimbabwe
  75. Susceptible Iyanai Chinoda OVC Care and Trust (SICO), Zimbabwe
  76. Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR), South Africa
  77. Rede Moçambicana de Lideres Religiosos Vivendo com HIV e SIDA (MONERELA+), Mozambique
  78. Association Africaine de Défense des Droits de l’Homme (ASADHO)
  79. Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER), Uganda
  80. International Alliance on Natural Resources in Africa (IANRA)
  81. Africa International Development and Environment in the XXI century (AIDE21)
  82. FEMNET – African Women’s Development and Communications Network
  83. Women Environmental Programme Nigeria (WEP-Nigeria)
  84. Niger Delta Women’s Movement for Peace and Development (NDWPD), Nigeria
  85. Positive-Generation, Cameroon
  86. Civil Society Organizations Network (CSO Network – Kenya)
  87. NamRights Inc, Namibia
  88. Collectif Sénégalais des Africaines pour la Promotion de l’Education Relative à l’Environnement (COSAPERE), Sénégal
  89. Center for Health, Human rights and Development (CEHURD), Uganda
  90. Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC), Malawi
  91. Centre for Youth Empowerment and Civic Education (CYECE), Malawi
  92. Youth and Society (YAS), Malawi
  93. Poverty Reduction Network (PORENET), Mozambique
  94. Khulumani Support Group, South Africa
  95. African Men for Sexual Health and Rights [AMSHeR]
  96. Society for International Development (SID)
  97. Prévention Information et Lutte contre le SIDA (PILS), Mauritius
  98. Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ), Kenya
  99. Amnesty International Senegal (AI Senegal)
  100. Section 27, South Africa
  101. Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre, South Africa
  102. Gay & Lesbian Network, South Africa
  103. Amnesty International Mali (AI Mali)
  104. Equality Now, Kenya
  105. Corruption Watch, South Africa
  106. Child Rights Advocacy and Paralegal Aid Centre (CRAPAC), Malawi
  107. African Center for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS)
  108. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Zimbabwe
  109. Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Nigeria
  110. National Right to Food, Malawi
  111. Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN), Malawi
  112. Malawi Health Equity (MHEN), Malawi
  113. Malawi Network of People Living With HIV/AIDS (MANET+), Malawi
  114. Church and Society Programmes – CCAP Synod of Livingstonia, Nkhoma, Blantyre, Zambia, and Harare
  115. Civil and Political Space Platform (CSP Platform), Malawi
  116. Centre for Governance and Public Participation (CeGPP), Malawi
  117. The Institute for Political Interaction (IPI), Malawi
  118. Ukhondo Services Foundation, Malawi
  119. Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), Nigeria
  120. Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC), Malawi
  121. Centre for Youth and Children Affairs (CEYCA), Malawi
  122. Development Dynamics Nigeria
  123. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ-Africa Programme)
  124. Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU)
  125. Human Rights Network Uganda (HURINET-U), Uganda
  126. Swaziland Lawyers for Human Rights (SLHR), Swaziland
  127. Open Society Foundation for Southern Africa (OSISA)
  128. Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA), South Africa
  129. Youth Engage from Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe

[i] Report on the SAHRC Investigation into Issues of Rule of Law, Justice and Impunity arising out of the 2008 Public Violence against Non-Nationals, 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


TO  : South African High Commissioner

FROM  : Concerned citizens of Republic of Malawi

Cc : The State President of Republic of Malawi, His Excellency Prof. Mutharika

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

                        Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs
                        The Speaker of National Assembly

                        Chief Justice of Malawi Judiciary

                        Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security 

                        Malawi diplomatic community
We, the people of Malawi, stand in solidarity with all Africans to condemn in the strongest terms the current resurgence of xenophobia in the Republic of South Africa. In 2008, we came to this embassy to demand a stop to acts of wanton violence on migrant workers from the SADC region including Malawi. 

Your predecessor promised us that “never again!” would fellow Africans be subjected to such cruel and degrading acts of violence. Sadly, today we stand here to see history repeating itself. Xenophobia is the new apartheid, and it threatens to undo the gains that South Africa has made after the end of apartheid. It threatens the human rights of all (especially migrants) and the flourishing of true free and tolerant New South Africa.

We call upon the Government of South Africa to urgently remove the structural inequalities that are rooted in apartheid and white privilege. We believe these are the main causes of worsening economic inequality and marginalisation. These inequities were not instituted by migrants, and will not automatically disappear if the migrant population decreases. The most sustainable way to address the economic frustrations felt by many South Africans is to adopt policies that reduce the inequalities, and create programs that empower ordinary South Africans.

We urge the Government of South Africa to categorically condemn any individual or institution that encourages the widespread use of xenophobic, aggressive and militarised rhetoric as a trend of blaming foreigners for social ills.

We appeal to civil society organizations in South Africa to promote the rights of migrants, by contributing to civic and human rights education in order to enhance values of equality.
We call upon the Government of South Africa, in line with provisions in their Constitution and International legal obligations, to protect the rights of all people living in South Africa and to address the root causes of xenophobia.

We demand that the South African Police Service and the South African Human Rights Commission thoroughly investigate the xenophobic attacks and hold all those responsible accountable. We note with disappointment that perpetrators of previous xenophobic violence were not held accountable for the killing of more than 60 people across South Africa in 2008.

We wish to remind the South African Government of how other African countries including Zimbabwe, sacrificed their socio-economic and political resources in solidarity with South African liberation movements to bring an end to evil apartheid. In light of these extreme sacrifices by African people, we expect the South African authorities and its citizens to reciprocate the solidarity through Ubuntu and shunning of Xenophobia.

We are extremely disgusted by the reckless xenophobic utterances by senior political figures such as Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu and President Zuma’s son Edward that continue to incite violence against foreign nationals.

We are concerned by the South African Government’s very slow reaction to the rapidly spreading wave of xenophobic violence.

We call upon the South African Government to:

1. Be proactive and protect the rights of all people living in South Africa, in line with provisions in their Constitution and international legal obligations and address the root causes of xenophobia.

2. Thoroughly investigate the xenophobic attacks and hold all those responsible accountable. The pictures of perpetrators are all over social media. We demand that the South Africa Government identifies these people and are brought to book in a court of law.

3. Ensure that the South African Human Rights Commission investigates xenophobia comments reportedly made by the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, Edward Zuma and Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu and take appropriate action.

4. Ensure that the South African government effect compensations to the victims of Xenophobia.
If these appeals and demands are not met within 48 hours, we shall have no choice but to call for a boycott of South African products and businesses in Malawi.

Signed for and on behalf of concerned citizens of Malawi;

Billy Mayaya   ………………………………………… Human Rights Defender

Gift Trapence   ……………..…………………………. Centre for Development of People

Robert Mkwezalamba  ………………………………………… Human Rights Consultative

Lucky Mbewe    ..……………………………………….  Youth Empowerment and Civic

Timothy Mtambo      ………………………………………… Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation,


Monday, April 20, 2015


The Thabo Mbeki Foundation (TMF) has noted with grave concern, the on going attacks on fellow Africans – and other foreign nationals - from beyond our borders resident in our country.

As is our moral and political obligation, we join millions of South Africans in unequivocal condemnation of this criminality and commend efforts by the government to bring it to an end.
The attacks, some of which have resulted in deaths, injuries and damage to property offend not only the human dignity of the victims, but that of the vast majority of South Africans.

We call on those of our fellow nationals who are participants in these base misdeeds to stop!
Most importantly, we also call on members of our communities to work together with the South African Police Service, the government as a whole and community organisations that are involved in efforts to stop the attacks.

To our fellow Africans, we would like them to know that these actions by a few among us do not reflect the South African character. Long before the discovery of diamonds and gold, this part of Africa has always welcomed migrants from elsewhere on the continent and further afield.

The discovery of gold in the Witwatersrand in 1886 brought together Africans from all over the region to work in the mines and other industries. The descendants of these immigrants have, over the
centuries, integrated into our society as South Africans and played an important role in the development of South Africa. 

Limiting ourselves only to those who came from around the continent, we recall, with immense pride of our national and common African heritage, the contribution of Clements Kadalie, a Malawian by origin who established the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union in 1919, Nobel Laureate Chief Albert Luthuli and Thomas Nkobi, both originally from Zimbabwe but who made enormous contributions to the struggle against apartheid.

The TMF believes that our country is challenged to engage in conversation about all elements that relate to this subject matter. Beyond the fundamental task of working as a nation to achieve a better
life for all our people, on which we embarked in 1994, and which we know will still take time, these include: 

‪#‎an‬ education curriculum that is unashamedly African; one that exposes young Africans to the continent’s contribution to human civilisation and promotes the understanding that like any people and peoples, as Africans, we sink or swim together!

#an examination by our media, especially the public broadcaster, of their output and the extent to which it promotes national and continental objectives on such matters as non-racialism, non-sexism,
national cohesion and the African renaissance;

‪#‎the‬ promotion of a common national patriotism based on commitment to the inclusive values espoused in the constitution. Narrow and exclusive identity constructs are not imbued with the qualities of the Pan African spirit we need in dealing with the on going attacks on fellow Africans and others; and, 

‪#‎expunging‬ from our discourse, bigoted language such as “Makwerekwere” and seemingly benign but unhelpful clichés that we often hear about, for example, that of South Africa as a “Gateway to
Africa,” as though we were somewhere outside and far away from the African Continent.

Issued by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation
April 17, 2015

CHRR, Cedep Response to Malawi Government’s “Intimidation” Over CSOs’ Role in UPR and Other UN Mechanisms

CHRR, Cedep Joint Press Statement
CHRR, Cedep Response to Malawi Government’s “intimidation” over CSOs’ role in UPR and other UN mechanisms: We will not be moved an inch from fulfilling our human rights and governance obligations as human rights defenders in the best interest of human rights for all

1.0. Preamble
We, the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for Development of People (Cedep), have learnt with deep shock and regret the recent “intimidatory” rants by the Malawi government through the Solicitor General and Secretary to the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs accusing the Civil Society Organizations who appeared before the working group during the recent pre-sessions of the 2nd review of UPR due in May of ambushing government with issues which were not raised at country level with her government. In both the media interview and during her “highly emotionally charged” opening speech at the working session of Malawi’s taskforce on Convention against torture (CAT) at Lilongwe hotel on 15th April 2015, the Solicitor General took a swipe to label the CSOs who “frequent” Geneva as unpatriotic who are only hell-bent at portraying a bad picture of government while neglecting the remarkable progress made by government in human rights realm. The Secretary to the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs further alleged that the CSOs were doing all this just to please their donor masters for sustainability of their institutions. 

2.0. Our response to “unpatriotism” rants
To begin with, we at CHRR and Cedep are on one hand not surprised with the “unpatriotic” accusations levelled against us by the Solicitor General considering the fact that some other prominent government politicians including the Minister of Gender Hon. Patricia Kaliati, Minister of Information Kondwani Nankhumwa and Minister of Health Jean Kalilani have of the recent past made similar chants especially following our joint anti-NACGATE advocacy with other 20 Civil Society Organisations in the country with the climax of it being the 13th January 2015 demonstrations against bad governance and political abuse and interference in HIV/AIDS funds at National Aids Commission (NAC) for activities which have nothing to do with HIV/AIDS prevention and response. Coming from another highly ranked government official, though a professional not necessarily a politician, is no surprise but rather confirms the existing collective philosophy in the current APM’s regime that any actor/stakeholder who decides to expose the current regime gaffes, especially on the international scene, is unpatriotic. Patriotism, according to APM’s regime dictionary is merely singing praise of the current regime as the best thing to have ever happened to this country even in the midst of shortfalls requiring urgent national and international response to remedy the same.

However, what is surprising to us on the other hand is to hear such ill-advised comments being echoed by a great respected professional with not only high academic accolades but also well conversant with the international reporting mechanisms including Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and other UN mechanisms. This is not only embarrassing but also retrogressive in as far as the government’s committed efforts towards protection and promotion of human rights for all in line with the international human rights instruments to which it is party to are concerned. We, CHRR and Cedep, would like to reiterate what we said a month ago that we will never be part of the docile citizenry that tacitly supports mediocrity in the name of “patriotism”, if patriotism. As human rights defenders, we will never sacrifice the social accountability movement, both locally and internationally, at the altar of a professed “patriotism”.    We will never be part of those “hand clappers” who entertain “evil” under the guise of patriotism. Malawians of good will are the best judges of who a true patriot is between the one who conceals his “sins” and die in “iniquity”, and the one who exposes them, and finds mercy and deliverance. Posterity will judge us - who a true patriot is. 

3.0. Do/Did CSOs really ambush government with issues in Geneva? Government’s deliberate distortion of facts as a tool to divert public attention from real issues requiring its urgent response and accountability
We at CHRR and Cedep also find wanting the accusations made by the Solicitor General that government is often ambushed with issues which it has no canal knowledge of at country level but are presented by CSOs in Geneva. The accusation, in our view, is one of the current regime’s strategies or propaganda aimed at diverting the public attention from real issues of human concern requiring government’s urgent response and accountability. 

With reference to the recent UPR-precession in Geneva attended by government officials and civil society actors including CHRR, Cedep, IPAs, MISA-Malawi Chapter, NGO Coalition on Child Rights (NGO CCR), the issues which appeared in the CSOs presentation were not new, and most of them had been repeatedly raised domestically with government but with no tangible reaction. It would be naïve and gullible enough for one to suggest that matters pertaining to access to information, legal barriers to enjoyment freedom of expression, operationalization of the Independent Complaints Commission, sexual reproductive health, the continued underfunding of human rights bodies like Ombudsman, Malawi Human Rights Commission,  Legal Aid bureau, LGBTI, child protection and rights, access to justice, July 20 saga, people living with albinism, extrajudicial killings and protection of vulnerable groups, poor prison conditions, protection of human rights defenders, freedom of assembly and association, Chasowa and Kalonga Stambuli, cashgate cases, just to mention a few, came as an ambush to government in the recent Geneva sessions. 

Instead of engrossing itself in baseless intimidatory antics aimed at suppressing the CSOs voice in UPR and other international human rights mechanisms, we urge the government to put its house in order and address the concerns once and for all as part of her human rights obligations and commitment to international instruments to which Malawi is party to. Why does the current regime seem to be so concerned and threatened with our presence in these international human rights platforms when we have been doing the same under the previous regimes? What are they hiding from the general public? Where are these donor’s influence accusations coming from, by the way? 

4.0. Our response to allegations of portraying a bad picture of the current regime as a fundraising tool to win donor support for sustainability of our institutions
We, CHRR and Cedep, do not only perceive the above subject allegations from the government through the Solicitor General as not only absurd, illogical but also insensitive. Donors that support government and CSOs work particularly in human rights and democratic governance need to be applauded for such a complimentary role in the promotion and protection of human rights for all

It is therefore insensitive for a government to fault those donors who support CSOs work at international mechanisms, which ironically the country is party to and hence obliged to fulfil its commitments, in putting government to task on its continued failure for instance to bring to conclusion of Kalonga Stambuli mysterious death, Robert chasowa Murder and government’s continued unfilled promises on the tabling of access to information bill just to mention a few of issues presented by CSOs. 

If anything, such donors should be commended for supporting CSOs initiatives to see to it that just is attained in the best interest of the victims and the vulnerable groups. To put the record straight, we at CHRR and Cedep have no problems with any donor supporting the protection and promotion of human rights (civil, political, cultural, economic rights) and good governance through government, civil society or any other player towards human and economic development. After all, while strides have to be made for the country to work towards reducing donor dependence it is a fact at this level we still need such support than ever to improve attainment and realization of civil, political, economic and cultural rights for all Malawians.  

  It is also misleading on the part of government to suggest that CSOs only dwell on the “negatives” while deliberately ignoring the “positives” registered by government. The government and the general republic can be referred to all the shadow reports and statements we have presented at these international mechanisms which Malawi is party to alongside other CSOs to appreciate the blend of “positives” so far registered and areas requiring improvement. These statements are often shared with key stakeholders including government, civil society and the media just to appreciate the issues raised, and some mechanisms even publish them on their websites. However, it is imperative to point out that while some positives have been registered there is still more work, even outweighing the positives, in human rights realm that needs government’s attention, and it would be suicidal on our part as a country (government and civil society included) to dwell on singing praise on a few registered successes to the extent of turning a blind eye to areas that require our urgent attention. This is perhaps the reason why the so-called “negatives” are highlighted more than the “positives” by these international mechanism particularly on concluding observations and recommendations with the objective of improving the human rights situation in a state party.

5.0. The role of CSOs in UPR and other UN and international mechanisms/treaty (e.g. ACHPR) bodies in promotion and protection of human rights for all
We, CHRR and Cedep, are also disturbed by Solicitor General’s attempts to portray that CSOs just wake up to go to Geneva and report ill about the current government in the process downplaying the relevance and importance of CSOs in UPR and other international mechanisms including those relating to UN, African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights. Who mandates the CSOs to go to Geneva? 

The answer is simple: The government of Malawi, by virtue of being party to the various UN mechanisms and treaty bodies, mandates the CSOs to go to Geneva to appear before the various UN mechanisms including ICCPR, UPR and also other international forums on the continent like the ACHPR etc. Besides, some of the CSOs including CHRR, Cedep are part and parcel of government’s constituted and coordinated taskforces on UPR and other UN mechanisms which partly speaks volume of Malawi government’s recognition of the importance of the role of CSOs in these international mechanisms particularly in providing a comprehensive picture of the human rights situation in the country.

 It is also a fact that Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation acquired its observer status at African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) since 1998, and both CHRR and Cedep continue to champion their human rights work at UN level through different UN mechanisms such as the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). All these are facts which the Solicitor General and her cohorts are fully conversant with but deliberately chose to ignore them just to please her “political masters” and evade government’s accountability on the various human rights issues of public concern like the murder of Chasowa, July 20 demonstrations saga, Access to Information bill, dilapidating prison conditions, the continued underfunding of human rights institutions like Malawi Human Rights Commission just to mention a few. This is shameful and retrogressive.

The United Nations through its various mechanisms recognize the vital role the CSOs have in providing the alternative. For instance, under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) the assessment of the human rights records of the concerned country are based on three sources of information, namely: information by the State concerned; a compilation of information prepared by Office of High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR), summarizing information contained in the reports of the treaty bodies, special procedures of the UN Council, and other UN documents that are relevant in examining the record of the concerned country; and information from stakeholders like NGOs. The basis of the review of any country’s human rights record under UPR as established by Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1 is the following: UN Charter, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Human Rights instruments to which the State is Party to, voluntary pledges and commitments by States and applicable international humanitarian law.
It is also important to note that besides UPR, under other international mechanism to which Malawi is party to like ICCPR and ACHPR in addition to the State report and replies to the list of issues and questions, the treaty bodies also receive additional information from other sources such as National Human Rights institutions, national, regional or international NGOs, and other Civil Society actors. Reports from national NGOs/CSOs are of particular value to the treaty bodies in examining State reports, as they provide an alternative source of information on the human rights situation in a particular country.   This makes such reports easy and useful tools for the work of treaty body members who can crosscheck and compare information with that supplied by the State party. 

Additionally, the Secretariat of the relevant treaty body prepares a country dossier, containing all available relevant information on the situation in the concerned country within the UN system and other relevant sources. Additional information, generally of a confidential nature, may also be submitted by the UN specialized agencies. As such, the concluding observations and recommendations for a particular country cannot in anyway be doctored by a particular CSOs but rather are a product of a careful examination of all the above mentioned reports including that of government, CSOs and UN country mechanisms, and are debated and adopted by the treaty body in a private meeting. 

In short, the CSOs have a vital role in the UPR and other international mechanisms as they can provide input into several crucial stages of the reporting processes including participating in national consultations preceding the drafting of the state party; submitting their own reports to the treaty bodies based on their own research, findings and views on the implementation of the relevant treaty at the national level as such shadow reports can help committee members of a treaty body achieve a more comprehensive picture of the human rights situation in the country; following up of the recommendations of treaty bodies through monitoring the efforts of government to implement the concluding observations and recommendations of the treaty bodies, and reporting this information back to the treaty bodies either through formal submissions or informally; and also lobbying governments to implement the concluding observations. 

6.0. The Way forward: We will not be moved an inch from fulfilling our human rights and governance obligations
We at CHRR and Cedep would like to reiterate that the recent “intimidatory” antics by the current regime will not move us an inch in performing and fulfilling our human rights and governance obligations as human rights defenders. If anything, these intimidatory rants have only strengthened our inward resolve to fearlessly stand for justice, good governance and human rights for all. No dictatorial sentiment, let alone political threats, shall succeed in wooing us to depart from the path of reason. We remain charged up for the noble service before us in the best interest of ordinary Malawians and human rights for all.  We are, and shall remain human rights servants!!!!     

God bless Malawi!!!!
Signed by                                                           

Timothy Mtambo                                                             Gift Trapence
Executive Director, CHRR                                    Executive Director   CEDEP

Saturday, April 18, 2015

CCJP Condemns Resurgence of Xenophobic Attacks in South Africa

A CCJP media statement in total condemnation of the resurgence of the xenophobic attacks of immigrants in South Africa
1.0.            Preamble
The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi is a social justice and advocacy arm of the Catholic Church in Malawi that is committed to bring about the reign of the Kingdom God in which justice and peace, respect for human dignity, upholding the sanctity of human life and human equality prevail.
The Justice and Peace Commission is saddened and shocked by the resurgence of xenophobic attacks in different parts of South Africa aimed at killing foreign nationals from different countries of origins. We categorically state that this is criminal and retrogressive to the civilization that the global village is promising in this era. Those South Africans perpetrating this hatred and the killings must stop these belligerent actions and remember the oneness of humanity enshrined in the Ubuntu philosophy that their own son, Archbishop Desmond Tutu preaches. South Africa, especially her leadership, must remember their history and the original vision and values of their forefathers who fought against the apartheid regime that pitied whites against blacks.
2.0.            Some critical facts to note
  1. South Africa has been the hub of socio-economic development in the SADC region from time immemorial. This economic development must not be seen in isolation of the human resource that was hired from most Southern African countries to work in the mines in South Africa. Whilst South Africa had natural resources, it needed additional human resource from other countries to exploit and commercialize these natural resources. This means most Southern African countries have contributed to the socio-economic development of South Africa, giving South Africa a moral responsibility to share the economic benefits.
  2. During the fight against the apartheid regime in South Africa, most black fighters got support from a number of southern African countries. Their operations were launched and planned in most of the southern African countries. The cooperation and the inter-dependence of southern African countries cannot be over-emphasized nor can they be easily dismissed.
  3. Currently, southern African companies are largely investing in southern Africa in so doing exporting South African products into most southern African countries. In essence, South Africa is, trade and economic wise, “neo-colonizing” southern Africa. As such most southern African countries are a market for southern African products. Such economic linkages cannot be wished away or cannot be overlooked.
  4. In a specific case of Malawi, most of our strong men from the late 70s worked under the Employment Bureau of Africa (THEBA) till the late 90s doing the most burdensome work in the mines. They spent most of their productive ages in the mines. Some have even died and lost limbs while working in the mines. The contribution of all these Malawians is immeasurable and cannot be paid back by lynching and killing their sons and grandsons who trek to South Africa to earn a living by working and not loitering around.
3.0.            Our worries
  1. The resurgence of the xenophobic attacks of foreign nationals in South Africa is becoming trendy. Their seemingly arousal from some political and traditional leaders in South Africa is very disturbing and worrisome when we consider the points raised above.
  2. The emergence of local black leaders in South Africa that would rather call for violence and extremism instead of dialogue and regional cohesion is a markedly departure from the southern African forefathers spirit of collaboration, inter-dependence and support. We are worried that this might have far reaching negative consequences in the region in areas of economy, security and peace.
  3. The xenophobic attacks might, in our considered view, create among other southern African countries citizens, a spirit of retribution in so doing creating a chaotic southern Africa that will not know peace.
  4. We are further worried that, there could be genuine developments in south Africa where the citizens feel they are left out on the socio-economic development path, yet with their xenophobic actions and reactions, neighboring countries might not see the critical challenge that south Africans are facing. In so doing, missing out an important opportunity to address the challenge through proper policy dialogue in various governance institutions in-country or in the SADC regional bodies.

4.0. Our position
CCJP is categorically and unambiguously condemning the resurgence of xenophobic attacks of foreign nationals in South Africa. Whilst acknowledging some emerging rhetoric towards halting these attacks, CCJP is calling for South African leadership at different levels to take up moral responsibility and stop these attacks. Whilst the attacks may satisfy some eschewed views about the sources of South Africans suffering, the attacks are not and shall never be a solution to the economic malaise in South Africa. An honest reflection and discussion both at national and international levels is needed to arrive at a best solution to the wretchedness of some South Africans. The economic inequality must not be seen from the lenses of foreign nationals as there are more internal factors and more perennial reasons than what is currently being popularized.

4.0.            Our appeal

4.1.            To the South African government.
The attacks of foreign nationals imply a social problem in the country. You should not pay a blind eye to this problem. Time has come to discuss this and create a just and peaceful South African society. Let parliament and other governance structures choose to deal with this for proper solutions. We implore you to categorically stop some of your local political and traditional leaders that are inciting public anger that is differed on foreign nationals instead of squarely looking at the economic disparities that have always existed in your country despite being one of the naturally endowed countries with precious natural resources.
4.2.            To the South African citizens
Experiencing poverty in a midst of plenty is a painful reality. Your Government has the obligation to create conditions that enable its citizens to live in dignity. However, killing innocent foreign nationals is not a solution. No leader should mislead you that foreign nationals are the source of your suffering. You need to go beyond and reflect upon the man made systems and structures of exploitation, poverty, and marginalization and tackle these before being misled that this suffering is caused by few foreign nationals. Remember, we in southern Africa, we have always lived together, worked together, suffered together. This oneness and solidarity is our vital source for peace and security the preconditions for our regional socio-economic development.
4.3.            To the Malawian citizens in South Africa
You are certainly encountering rejection and prejudice. However, be assured that our government is executing a rescuing program. Your brothers and sisters in Malawi care for your security. Come back home for your life is precious no matter how poor you are. After all, there is more that can be done in Malawi. As you coming back home, please do not hold any anger and spirit of vengeance to any South Africans or any of their property. Retribution and vengeance are not a solution. Only love will heal our wounds and bring about justice and peace.
4.4.            To Malawi government
Whilst CCJP acknowledges your efforts towards the plight of Malawian citizens affected by the xenophobia attacks in South Africa; it is high time you bring together different stakeholders to reflect upon the occurrences in South Africa. We need a stoke taking process to identify the challenges in our country, the reasons for the push factor to South Africa of our country’s youth, and discuss the solutions that must be implemented by relevant stakeholders and authorities- the ministries and departments of Immigration, Police, Socio-Economic Planning, Labour, the private sector and the Nongovernmental Organizations. Government cannot go on to put emergency repatriation plans and leave out  the mundane causes and consequences of the issue at hand. This recent experience calls for an immediate national dialogue.
4.5.            To the CSOs  and Opinion Leaders Organizing Demonstrations
CCJP is in solidarity with your plans and intentions. Expressing our dismay with the xenophobic attacks is very important. As we plan, let us remember that peaceful demonstrations and non-violent citizen’s expression of their frustrations are only the genuine means of making those in decision making positions to listen. As we are encouraging the general public to participate in the demonstrations, let us, as leaders, ensure that there should not be any differed anger that might destroy property and life of South Africans living in Malawi. Though our people are being killed, retribution through demonstrations will not bring about desired changes needed in our relationships with South Africans.
5.0.            Conclusion
The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), in conclusion, believes these xenophobic attacks can end and they must end now. Dialogue and not killing can provide solutions for many political and socio-economic challenges South Africans face today. In this Southern Africa region, we have respected, supported, protected and defended each other from so many negatives forces that militated against our humanity. Together as one we can sustain this regional strength. But we can only do so when we take away the hatred, the violence, the differed anger and face the reality. CCJP says no to xenophobia!!.

Signed by: Chris Chisoni, National Secretary, 19th April 2015