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CDEDI and others support March 2 anti-graft demonstrations: But cautions against racial targeting in fighting corruption

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Namiwa and associates addressing the press

A grouping of civil society organizations (CSOs) and Concerned Citizens have expressed their support for the anti-graft nationwide demonstrations scheduled for this Wednesday, March 2, 2022.

Concerned Malawians under the banner of Citizens Against Corruption and Impunity have organized mass protests to express their displeasure with the action Ashok Nair has taken to drag Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General Martha Chizuma to court for defamation over a leaked audio clip.

In the clip, Chizuma, while conversing with a yet-to-be identified senior government official, made a number of allegations, including that a High Court judge granted Nair – a business associate of the UK-based corruption suspect Zuneth Sattar – bail in exchange for a bribe.

This angered Nair who says his image and reputation have been battered; hence, his decision to claim damages from Chizuma through the court.

However, this has not gone down with a cross-section of Malawians who believe Nair and his associates are trying to intimidate the ACB boss so they escape justice.

One of the founders of the Citizens Against Corruption and Impunity, lawyer Sylvester Ayuba James, argues that what Nair has done is a slap in the face of justice.

James said is why they have decided to mobilize Malawians to express their anger against impunity in Malawi.

Addressing journalists in Lilongwe on Monday, the grouping of human rights activists and Concerned Citizens comprising Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI), Social Revolution Movement (SRM), Mundango Nyirenda, Mzuzu Youth Caucus (MYC) Gomezgyani Nkhoma and Citizen Zainab Hassan said they fully support the demonstrations.

However, CDEDI Executive Director, Sylvester Namiwa, condemned attempts by some overzealous Malawians to bring in “racial cards in this long-awaited fight against corruption.”

Namiwa urged the organizers to exercise caution, fearing, if not properly handled, the action may fuel racial hatred against businesspersons of Asian origin.

“I fully supports calls for mass protests in disapproving the lawsuit against Chizuma, but I totally disagree with assertions to tie this fight to race or tribe. Thus, we would like to condemn any attempts to bring in racial cards in this long-awaited fight against corruption. Corruption has nothing to do with a particular race or tribe. Let all Malawians stick to ethical ways and means of doing businesses, or risk facing the long arm of the law,” he said.

“We, therefore, appeal to Malawians to desist at all cost from using one brush to paint everyone. The issue at hand involves businessperson Zuneth Sattar and his business associates—in short, it is about individuals, and not all people of Asian origin (Amwenye) in general. Let us avoid the temptation of creating another problem in the course of trying to solve the one at hand,” added Namiwa.

Meanwhile, the Blantyre Chief Resident Magistrate Court has set March 1, 2022, as the date when it will rule on whether or not to commence criminal proceedings against Chizuma in a case where Forum for National Development (FND) wants the court to summon her to answer criminal charges in relation to the same audio clip.

Chief Resident Magistrate Jean Kaira has been assigned the case whose application, according to the Registrar of the High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal, Gladys Gondwe, was already heard in the court.

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