Released on 19th September, 2018
GOVERNMENT CONCERNED WITH CHALLENGES FACING THE DIALOGUE PROCESS AS A RESULT OF LACK OF COOPERATION FROM THE CIVIL SOCIETY
Government wishes to express its deepest concern with the uncivil manner and deliberate antagonist approaches used by the civil society under the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) aimed at frustrating Government’s intentions for deepening democracy and development through dialogue.
The general public is hereby informed that a Government delegation convened at 13:00hrs, the time the CSOs themselves had suggested for the dialogue meeting. Surprisingly, for the second time, the CSOs did not show up. The failure by the CSOs to attend this dialogue meeting comes when the group also failed to show up for the first meeting on Tuesday 18th September 2018 and kept the 15-member delegation of senior government officials waiting for 2 hours from 10:00hrs at the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC).
Government is also perplexed with the excuses given by the CSOs considering that the so called rules of engagement for the dialogue process are ordinarily supposed to be developed, negotiated, and adopted in a collective manner and not imposed by one side as the CSOs conducted themselves.
Government wishes to remind the CSOs of our unwavering commitment to dialogue which proceeds on mutually satisfactory terms without the sense of ‘civil society dictatorship’ characterized with unbridled egos from the leadership of the HRDC. Dialogue is a give and take process where every aspect of engagement is discussed on the dialogue table and nowhere else. This technical dialogue process is an opportunity for the CSOs to engage duty-bearers in a healthy conversation that brings results for advancing our national interest.
Government wishes to remind the HRDC that their claim as champions of human rights loses meaning the moment they begin to carry a ‘know-it-all attitude’ and portraying that they are above anyone else in as far as matters of national interest are concerned, by imposing their wishes on others without creating room for a dialogue. This attitude erodes the image of the HRDC as they technically cease to be effective human rights defenders and leaves many wondering what they are actually defending.
Government further wishes to remind the HRDC and the wider CSOs that Government has a strong commitment to promote and protect human rights and this is one of the reasons Government decided to engage the HRDC in a healthy dialogue because Government shall always be on the side of the people.
Government therefore finds the decision by the CSOs to chicken out of the technical dialogue process as a clear sign of disrespect to the democratic tenets of accountability through contact and dialogue. We also find the HRDC attitude as unfortunate and misaligned to our national collective pursuit for sustainable development. We are worried that the unpalatable methods employed by the HRDC are capable of denting the image of the wider CSO community.
Nonetheless, Government will continue on its path for democracy consolidation and strengthening people-centered development through dialogue with the wider CSO, NGO, faith community, and other non-state actors, for the good of the people of our beautiful country Malawi.
NICHOLAS HARRY DAUSI
MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY