Human rights activist and chairperson for the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) Timothy Mtambo has said the civil society organisations (CSOs) were now more determined than ever to hold demonstrations at the State House, saying they would not be intimidated by government threats or police brutality through arrests.
Mtambo said this Tuesday when handing himself at Police Headquarters in Lilongwe as he is on the list of HRDC top leaders to be arrested for planning to seal State Residences on March 25.
Two other leaders, Gift Trapence and McDonald Sembereka spent a second night in a police cell in Blantyre. They are accused of unlawfully mobilising people after they called for state residences to be shut down.
“If his idea was to scare us into submission then it has failed,” said Mtambo.
He said they will not be intimidated by the arrests.
“We will go to State House. We are not going to fight. It’s not war. We will proceed with our planned engagements,” he said.
President Mutharika on Sunday had warned HRDC to stop organising protests shortly before they were arrested.
“Nobody in this country is above the law. Mtambo cannot be bigger than the government. [Gift] Trapence, [MacDonald] Sembereka, and [Billy] Mayaya you are not bigger than the government. Get my word, your time is up, the party is over, go and smell the coffee,” said Mutharika said during a political rally.
HRDC said they will proceed with a sit-in on March 25 to pressure President Mutharika to sign an election reform bill passed by parliament.
Malawi’s parliament in February passed the electoral reforms bills, which paves the way for fresh elections after the constitutional court nullified the May polls.
The court cited massive irregularities in the vote, which saw Mutharika re-elected.
The electoral bills propose a date for fresh elections and procedures to follow in case of runoffs.
Malawi’s constitution gives the president 21 days to sign the bills into law. But, some activists, like the HRDC, and opposition parties worry Mutharika will drag out the process.