Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) researcher and activist Makhumbo Munthali has cautioned government against stifling debate on Malawi’s current state of socio-economic governance and calls for President Arthur Peter Mutharika (APM) to step down, stating that such a move has no space in a democratic dispensation.
The remarks comes on the sidelines of the 5th all inclusive stakeholders Conference on Economic and Political Governance organized by Public Affairs Committee (PAC) which was characterized with controversy and heated debate
PAC held the two-day stakeholders conference under the theme Defining Solutions to Economic and Political Direction in Malawi with efforts to find solutions to the problems dogging the country.
The opposition called for the President’s resignation for failing to manage the economy, a call which was repeatedly rejected by government on the basis that the President was elected by the people, not PAC or anyone.
Minister of Information and Civic Education Jappie Mhango told Malawi News that no one had the mandate to ask for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration to step down as governments are not elected by PAC, and that such calls were not part of PAC’s resolutions but views of individuals.
“It’s naïve to make such demand and no way can three mediocre people ask a government that was elected by to step down. These people never voted for the professor they voted for their own candidates that’s why they are in opposition. We will help them to remain professional opposition politicians for the next 100 years,” Mhango told Malawi News.
However, writing on his Facebook page a researcher at CHRR Makhumbo Munthali said no one should be stopped from expressing their views on the state of economic and political governance including on the calls for President Mutharika to resign simply on the basis that they are allegedly doing so in bad faith but rather concentration should be devoted on examining the facts brought on the table in relation to the status quo to determine if there are enough grounds warranting Mutharika to resign or not.
“While assessing and knowing the motivations behind each of these stakeholders is critical in understanding the various perspectives taken on this matter towards a concrete, sound decision, it is more important for us as a nation, irrespective of our diversity in political affiliation , to be honest with ourselves by soberly and critically reflecting on the status quo (socio-economic situation) in order to determine as to whether it is a product of incompetency on the part of the leadership particularly the President or not. Let people bring concrete facts – not necessarily emotions- vindicating their stance, and no one (including those in the government and opposition) should be stopped from exercising there mind on the matter” stated Munthali in his posting titled “Just my thoughts on calls for APM to resign”.
Munthali observed that there was nothing wrong for any section of Malawi society to call for the President’s resignation as long as such calls were grounded on facts rather than emotions or self-interest.
“Calling for President’s resignation with facts based on demonstrated incompetence or loss of public trust is not a crime or conspiracy as some quarters would want us to believe. If the situation is so ‘terrible’ and that the public is convinced beyond reasonable doubt that ‘political incompetence’ is the problem and that leaving the situation as it is would be disastrous to the national plight or national interest, then calling for the President to resign would be the way to go in order to save the country from danger if the ‘incompetent incumbency’ remain in power. It has, however, to be driven by national interest,” argued Munthali
In response to Minister Mhango’s statement that no one can force Mutharika to resign for his government was elected by the people, Munthali argued that the principle of Malawi social contract as clearly expressed in Section 12 (iii) and Section (6) of Malawi Constitution clearly empowered the citizens to take such a path especially in cases where public trust was lost.
“While Section 6 implies that a government that has not been elected through universal suffrage does not have authority to govern, Section 12 (iii) safeguards the power of the people by implying that a government that no longer has the sustained trust of the people, regardless of the fact that it might have been duly elected through universal suffrage, has no authority to govern, and people have the mandate to remove it in accordance with the law.”
Munthali quoted a Democracy Consolidation Programme “Building an Informed Nation” handbook prepared by Professor Wiseman Chijere Chirwa, Associate Professor Edge Kanyongolo and Dr. Edrinnie Kayambazinthu by stating that the principle of Social Contract requires that those that govern acknowledge their weakness and should be able to voluntarily leave power, with dignity, whenever those that are governed no longer have trust or confidence in them, and thus require them to leave office.
He, however, indicated that calling for the President to resign without concrete grounds was wrong and a waste of time.
“In the same breath, calling for the President’s resignation without concrete grounds is just a waste of time and reflects badly on the proponents of such calls. Let the debate on the matter be guided by reason and national interest,” argued Munthali.
Meanwhile, Malawi News editorial comment called on government to act on the recommendations that would come from the PAC conference.
“The DPP administration was well represented and there is no question that they can still engage in denial about Malawi anger as regards what is happening in their country,” reads the paper’s editorial comment in part.
It added: “The DPP administration can indeed spurn calls for the President to resign and wrongly or rightly say the conference did not elect the President but a majority of Malawians. But the party in power cannot wish away the problems that people of Malawi are facing daily. On the contrary they should deal with the problems and while at it, they should be fast. PAC conference cannot and should not go a waste”
Other concerns raised at the meeting are high unemployment rates and a lopsided economy that is exemplified by a predominantly consumption economy as well as failure to deal with the gap created by lack of donor support.
There are also concerns on lack of transparency and accountability in the comprehensive handling of the Cashgate cases and inaction of the Government to respond with urgency to the current food crisis, in spite of huge financial injections to the Farm Input Subsidised Programme (FISP).
- Establishment of a legalised Nation Economic Planning Commission (NEPC)
- President Peter Mutharika to step down if he fails to release maize to all the Admarc depots within 30 days.
- Form an interim Government of National Unity comprising all political parties, CSOs and Religious leaders
- Call for early elections
- President Peter Mutharika should call for help from international organisations and the local community for the provision of maize
- Change of electoral voting system
- Allocate resources to ministries of health, agriculture and education be proportional to the need of the sectors
- Government should institute austerity measures in order to curb Government’s wasteful spending
- Government should invest in production and manufacturing
During its 4th All Inclusive Stakeholders Conference held in January 2015, PAC convened that meeting under the theme Promoting Awareness on the Proposed Reforms on Local Government Act. At the meeting, the body made 19 recommendations, which were submitted to President Mutharika for action.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :