LILONGWE—When U.S. Secretary of State’s Hillary Clinton was in Malawi on Sunday, Pres Joyce Banda said: “We have been women and children fighters.”
Yes, Pres Banda, like Clinton, has been a fighter for the advancement of women. That fact can't be denied. In some cases, people recognise such efforts and those who put their lives on the line for the sake of others get rewarded.
It happens that when people get to the top, they try to protect their achievement by using various tactics. Banda’s predecessor, Bingu wa Mutharika, who died in April this year after suffering from a heart attack, was one such individual.
MaraPost has it on good authority that Pres Banda rejected names of two prominent women to become Commissioners at the state-funded Malawi Human Rights Commission.
A highly placed official, whose name MaraPost has deliberately suppressed, revealed this week at the New State House where Pres Banda was swearing the new Commissioners that the rejection of the only two women names nominated came as a huge surprise to those close to the process.
“The two women are Emmie Chanika a veteran human rights activist and Executive Director for the Civil Liberties Committee (CILIC) and Habiba Osman, a human rights lawyer who has become prominent in issues related to Child trafficking,” said the top official.
Chanika was nominated by at least six organisations while Osman was nominated by 10 organisations, making her one of the highest nominated names, but that couldn’t sway the president.
Chanika, who holds an MSc in Strategic Management from University of Derby founded CILIC alongside prominent lawyers, including Attorney General and Minister of Justice Ralph Kasambara, was among the fiercest critics of Bakili Muluzi (1994-2004) and his later attempt for a third term.
Osman came into the limelight when she was arrested for staging a demonstration against the late Bingu wa Mutharika during the Comesa summit in October 2011. She holds a Masters degree in law and is an active member in several human rights, governance and social forums.
There's a belief that the two women were rejected on the basis that they would be independent which could, at times, put the government in awkward positions. Insiders say Banda wants to play it safe to increase her chances of winning in 2014 as she was inaugurated as president in April to finish the remainder of Mutharika's term.
That could be Pres Banda's calculation but the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation and the Centre for the Development of the People have already condemned the new human rights commission which has only one lady commissioner, calling it a step backward.
©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment.