By Alfred Mthandizi
Human rights activists have come out strongly demanding that government should implement Salima-Lilongwe water project. In a press conference held Tuesday night, rights activists said government will work to the advantage of the poor and middle scale Malawians hence the need to roll it out.
Veteran rights defender, Rodgers News, flanked by Billy Mayaya and MacDonald Sembereka, read a petition asking donors and other development partners to keep their hands off the project saying Malawi is a sovereign state.
“The Partners in Malawi should refrain from neopatrimonialism and neoliberal tendencies considering that Malawi is a sovereign state operating in the global context that is supposed to level the playing field,” said Newa.
Newa said government should not succumb to both internal and external pressure that may delay the implementation of the project. “Government is under constitutional obligation to ensure that the citizens’ right to water is not unnecessarily delayed and work expeditiously to iron out challenges locking the project in particular the EIA,” said Newa.
Newa said as voice of voiceless, CSOs are concerned that the citizens, especially in capital city, have a legitimate expectation of the improved service delivery which will add value to their standard of living.
Last April, Human Rights Consultative Committee, an umbrella body of 97 rights advocacy bodies also defended the awarding of a K360 Million Contract to Khato Civil Limited while giving room to government and the company to iron out some finer details regarding the actual work while the work is still progressing.
The coming out of the grouping followed reports that the awarding and actual job commencement was done without environmental impact assessments. Khato Civils Limited won the $500 million (approximately K360 billion) contract on restricted tender process where six civil engineering companies participated and these were Khato, Sinohydro Corporation, PW Engineering, Mota-Engil, China Railway and CMC di Ravenna.
However speaking during the press conference, HRCC chairperson, Robert Mkwezalamba, who was accompanied by other CSO leaders, said there was nothing wrong on the whole issue since the importance of water is paramount in life.
“As Civil Society Organizations, we applaud the stakeholders for taking into consideration the needs and aspirations of Malawians. We further note with satisfaction that the project of this magnitude has been awarded to a Malawian whose expertise and knowledge is regionally acknowledged. This recognition of regional skills and capability will go a long way in motivation more Malawians to perform accordingly,” said Mkwezalamba.
Reverend Mac Donald Sembereka of Mango Network said everything was being done to ensuring that all bottlenecks do not exist on this project.