SOTU Malawi launches the "My African Union" Campaign
The National Advocacy Platform (NAP) for the SOTU project in Malawi on Tuesday 20th January 2015 officially launched the "My African Union" campaign at Liwonde township in Balaka District.Th
e continental campaign seeks to facilitate effective engagement between citizens and leaders in an effort to push for accelerated efforts in implementing AU charters and protocols in member states. The Campaign is part of the wider State of the Union (SOTU) project set to empower citizens, engage governments and AU, and build the capacity of civil society and citizen groups to effectively engage stakeholders on AU affairs. As the name suggests, "My African Union" campaign aims at bridging the gap between the citizens and their own public institutions like the African Union which for a long time have been quite remote to the ordinary citizens. SOTU ambassador in Malawi Rt. Hon. Henry Chimunthu Banda officially launched the campaign and called upon all stakeholders to join hands in supporting the implementation of Au instruments in Malawi.
The launch brought together thousands of citizens and stakeholders from different sectors including government, civil society, private sector and political parties who are in agreement to strengthen collaboration in implementing dreams and commitments enshrined in AU charters and Protocols. Speakers at the launch that included ordinary citizens and traditional leaders joined to call for responsible leadership and accountability inorder to realise the rights and freedoms that are contained in AU legal and policy instruments.
During the launch, citizens presented a petition to the Malawi Government and the African Union ahead of the 24th AU Summit to be held in Addis Ababa. In the petition, citizens have called on the Malawi Government and the AU to fully implement charters and protocols for the benefit of all the peoples of Africa. They added that the interests of the citizens should inform the formulation of the Agenda 2063. The Presidential Advisor on NGOs, Mr. Mavuto Bamusi received the petition and promised to deliver it to the Head of State who is set to attend the summit.
Also speaking during the launch, the NAP chairperson, Mrs. Martha Kwataine called upon citizens to hold leaders and duty bearers accountable and responsibly contribute to nation building. She added that citizen actions are pivotal in ensuring that public resources are utilised to the maximum.
At the beginning of the programme, participants observed a minute of silence in honor of flood victims across the country. for the past few weeks, Malawi has been plagued with heavy storms and floods which have claime over 170 lives and displaced thousands of people the majority of whom are the poor.
Other activities have been lined up to follow up on the issues raised.
"My African Union", My Government!!!
CITIZEN PETITION ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF AU CHARTERS AND PROTOCOLS IN MALAWI
We the citizens of Malawi and Africa as whole hereby present this petition to the Malawi Government and the African Union (AU) on the occasion of the launch of â€œMy African Unionâ€ campaign held at Liwonde in Balaka District on Tuesday 20 January 2015 ahead of the 24th AU Summit whose theme is â€œYear of Womenâ€™s Empowerment and Development towards Africaâ€™s Agenda 2063â€. The campaign, which is sponsored by the State of the Union (SOTU) coalition of civil society and citizen groups, seeks to enhance and widen citizen participation in the affairs of the AU with an aim of realizing the rights and freedoms enshrined in the AU charters and protocols. The campaign is focusing on the implementation of AU legal and policy instruments that border on governance, democracy, environment, health, agriculture, women, youth, children and human rights, which, if implemented can held end extreme poverty and suffering in our society;
- Malawi is a member of the AU having joined its predecessor, Organization of the African Unity (OAU) on 13 July 1964 and hence obliged to sign, ratify, domesticate, and monitor the implementation of legal and policy instruments as adopted by the Heads of Member States;
- We are the rights holders and that the Malawi Government and the AU exist for purposes of promoting the interests of all the citizens;
- Progress has been registered as evidenced by political, social and economic transformations since the attainment of independence;
- African countries like Malawi are facing daunting challenges to fully liberate themselves from extreme poverty and suffering;
- The majority of ordinary citizens remain buried in extreme poverty and vulnerability compared to a few rich and privileged elites in our society;
- Citizens have remained less informed and empowered to effectively participate in the affairs of the nation and the AU resulting in marginalization and exploitation;
- The pace of implementation and realization of dreams, visions, commitments, and promises as enshrined in the AU charters and local instruments remains too slow and vague to match with the increasing social-economic demands of the ever-rising population in the country and on the African continent;
- The gap between the poor and rich/powerful has remained too wide to justify and is a sign of exploitative and unfair policies that favor the elites at the expense of the poor;
- Womenâ€™s empowerment programmes have not been effective and have lacked adequate support leaving many women and girls still vulnerable (Example 1. Machinga district has no government boarding Secondary School which could have boarding facilities for both girls and boys. This is affecting girlsâ€™ education in the district who are relying on outsourcing accommodation which compromise their security and moral behavior).
- Some multinational and private companies are lacking corporate Social responsibility and jist interested in exploitating natural resources. (Example 2. Vale Railways Project which is being constructed by Mota Engel, has caused untold displacement and suffering of the ordinary citizens while failing to support the locals in Machinga, Neno, and Mwanza districts. In addition there are Resorts, Lodges, Hotels that were built along the Lake Malawi in Mangochi, which are not concerned to develop the welfare of the people that they have found in these areas in form of providing them safe drinking water, Health facilities, though they are generating a lot of money. Some owners even ban the local community access the Lake).
- Access to quality health care remains a big challenge for many ordinary citizens. On health â€“ there is increased cases of STIs, HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancies among young girls which have been fueled by the multi-national Construction projects.
- There is lack of accountability and transparency when governments hold discussions or make agreements between governments and private investors. In areas of Mining, Oil exploration and extraction, fertilizer and Cement manufacturing. (Example 3 Mota Engil which is constructing the Railways line- the communities are demanding that the company has to maintain the Balaka â€“ Liwonde Road and Nsanama-Nayuchi all weather Road, which were damaged because of the heavy construction machinery that used these Roads.)
- Politicization of the national projects is a challenge - There is need to depoliticize these national projects which well implemented can benefit a large community. (Example 4 there are roads construction projects that were just promised or have started or have just stalled without even the Duty bearers updating the communities on the progress; these are Chingale-Lirangwe road, Zomba-Jali-Phalombe-Chitakale Road, Balaka-Chilipa Road and Liwonde-Ntaja Road).
- Natural resources and environment Management has weakened resulting in massive deforestation and climate changes â€“ Example 4 Balaka has a large quantity of lime stones that can produce lime to supply to the consumers in Malawi. And yet the country continues importing Ndola Lime from Zambia, losing much needed forex. Overfishing in our Lakes and depleting of species of fish in Lake Malawi, Chilwa, Chiuta, Malombe just to mention a few. The Duty Bearers should enforce the fishermen to comply the period that the Lakes close for fishing.
- Environmental delegation â€“ Other companies are disposing of their refuse into the Shire River which is contributing to health hazards to communities that are using the river. Heavy Penalties has to be given to these companies in order to reduce this bad conduct.
- Lack of support for Local businesses â€“ Still business people are failing to access loans from the Financial Lending Institutions due to hard conditions/collateral and high interest rates. And also politicization of the loans. More people who are connected to politicians they are able to access the loans without much problems. For example YEDEF and Motorcycle Loans.
- Markets are in poor conditions â€“ despite the district councils collecting market fees and other user fees they are not improving the sanitation of these markets. There is need for vibrant management committees and committed council employees to improve these market conditions.
- Increased cases of Child abuse â€“ the community is concerned with the increase of child abuses in the country. We are against the child trafficking, defilement, early marriages, child abduction. We need the duty bearers to fully implement the laws and policies that are there to protect our children.
- Oil exploration on Lake Malawi â€“ People along the Lake Malawi are not clearly informed about the positives and negatives of Oil extraction on the Lake. But once the companies starts extracting the oil, more fishermen will lose their income generating activity. So there is need for government to open up and engage the people along the Lake Malawi in dialogue.
- Poor Service Provision â€“ Persistent electricity black outs have negatively affected the Health service delivery in the districts. For example in Balaka districts, reports show that 8 women have lost their lives during delivery due power failure.
- The communities of the Eastern Region are concerned the floods that have affected a lot of people. Now itâ€™s time that citizens should take a strong approach in the improvement of natural Resources Management like planting trees, avoid cultivation and building houses along the river banks
- The interests and aspirations of the ordinary citizens be at the center of Africaâ€™s Agenda 2063 and development planning.
- Women, youth and children empowerment should be a must and proper investment be made accordingly.
- The Malawi Government and African Union to put in place strong monitoring and enforcement mechanisms for accelerated efforts towards the implementation of Au charters.
- Policy makers and decision makers hold hands to end corruption and abuse of the public resources.
We shall endvour to complement efforts aimed at contributing towards the realization of rights and freedoms.