Malawi’s parliament on Monday welcomed the country’s first elected albino parliamentarian when it was re-constituted after months of recess. Overstone Kondowe’s appearance at Malawi’s national assembly is seen as a victory for albinos who have faced attacks in the southern African country since 2014.
Until last Thursday, when he took the oath of office in the capital, Lilongwe, Kondove was a special adviser to President Lazarus Chakwera on albinism and persons with disabilities.
The move comes amid repeated attacks on people with albinism in Malawi after the by-elections held two weeks ago.
Police records show that in the past four months, there have been seven attacks on albinos, including murders, attempted kidnappings and physical violence. Separately, grave robbers retrieve the corpses to retrieve the albino’s body.
Kondowe is also a former president of the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi or APAM. He says that as a legislator in the National Assembly, he will step up his fight against incidents targeting albinos.
“I assure them that I will do my best to make sure that we also have programs, like South Africa did,” Kondowe said. “I set out to do that. And I’ve demonstrated my ability to do this even when I was working outside the system. Now, I’m at the center of the system, I’m sure change is coming, tomorrow.” No, but today.”
Statistics show that since 2014, more than 170 albinos have been attacked in Malawi because of false beliefs that a mixture mixed with their body parts brings luck and wealth.
To help stop the attacks, Malawi’s courts have imposed harsher punishments on the perpetrators.
For example, two weeks ago, the High Court in northern Malawi sentenced two men to life imprisonment with hard labor for the murder of a 54-year-old albino.
Young Muhamba is the current President of APAM.
He says Kondowe’s election to parliament sends a clear message that albinos are equal to other Malawians.
“We’ll develop a bill to do something with people with albinism,” Muhumba said. “So, he will be the first voice there in Parliament. He will be the first to introduce the bill and support it and others to support it as well. So, he will be like our voice.”
Muhumba says the association is currently pushing the government to implement its program of building homes for people with albinism as a safety measure.
Simon Munde is the Executive Director of the Federation of Disability Organizations in Malawi.
Munde says he believes Kondowe, a member of the ruling Malawi Congress Party, will also represent people with disabilities.
“We have faith in them,” Munde said. “The fact that he is quite a lawyer, he has done so even when he was an adviser to the President on the Disabilities, and we are in no way doubting that this kind of sentiment will continue with it because he is now speaking in Will be able to the Legislative Assembly.”
Munde said Kondove’s election to parliament should send a message to other public or private institutions that disability does not equal disability.