Governance and Human Rights Advocate Undule Mwakasungula has urged civil society organizations (CSOs) to focus their energies on inspiring hope and a sense of purpose among Malawians despite facing social and economic challenges instead of instigating hopelessness and succumbing to despair.
Mwakasungula observed that majority of the CSOs have devoted themselves to propagating and promoting despondency and hopelessness in an effort to make citizens become paralyzed and incapable of identifying solutions to the challenges.
The renowned human rights activist was reacting to the statement by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), which highlights several pressing issues, including the escalating cost of living, the fertilizer procurement fiasco, an imminent food crisis, fuel and forex shortages, and an escalating debt crisis.
Addressing journalists in Lilongwe on Sunday, the coalition called for accountable leadership, effective governance, and the pursuit of solutions to tackle the country’s challenges.
While commending HRDC for challenging the government to resolve the problems Malawians are facing, Mwakasungula emphasized the need for CSOs to promote collective action, national resilience, and the belief that Malawians can overcome these challenges through unity, transparency, and a shared commitment to the principles that define the country.
“There is no denying that Malawi is currently facing an economic crisis that demands careful consideration and decisive action from the government to address the challenges at hand. One positive aspect of this situation is the presence of Malawians and organizations, such as the HRDC, who are speaking out and raising awareness about the issues facing our country. This demonstrates a strong sense of civic engagement and concern for the well-being of our citizens. Such civic engagement is crucial for building national unity and promoting constructive dialogue and collaboration towards finding solutions. Furthermore, this underscores the government’s unwavering commitment to promoting an open society and safeguarding the fundamental freedoms of Malawians,” he said in an interview on Monday.
Mwakasungula said it is important that Malawians should acknowledge that the government has taken some steps to address the situation, such as canceling the fertilizer procurement deal with Romanian firm East Bridge Estate and initiating efforts to recover funds from the K750 million deal.
He said while these efforts may not be sufficient to fully address the crisis, they demonstrate government’s commitment and willingness to take action.
“While the challenges we face are indeed serious and require urgent attention, it may be more constructive to view them as symptoms of underlying problems that need to be addressed, rather than labeling the country as drifting towards a failed state. Although the challenges are severe, it is important to focus on the specific issues at hand and the potential for reform and recovery. This approach acknowledges the complexity of the situation and recognizes the agency of the Malawian people to address these challenges, rather than reducing the situation to a label that may not fully capture the nuances of our country’s current state,” said Mwakasungula.
Commenting on assertions by HRDC that Malawi is fast drifting into a failed state, Mwakasungula said it is crucial to understand that the term “failed state” is a highly charged and complex label that can have significant implications both domestically and internationally.
He defined failed state as a word used to describe a country with weak institutions, poor governance, chronic violence, and a lack of basic public services.
Mwakasungula said he does not believe that Malawi has not reached that level.
“Therefore, applying this term to our country should be done with caution and a thorough understanding of our context. In times of crisis, it is important for people to come together and work towards finding solutions. This includes supporting government efforts to address the challenges while holding them accountable for their actions. It is also essential to note that although the situation is difficult, it is not hopeless. With decisive action from the government, support from the people and international partners, we can overcome these challenges and build a stronger, more prosperous future for our country,” he said.
“Ultimately, understanding that building national unity and progress requires a collective effort from all Malawians, regardless of our political, religious, ethnic, regional background. By working together, we can overcome this crisis and pave the way for a stronger, more prosperous future for our beloved country,” concluded Mwakasungula.