President Peter Arthur Peter Mutharika has appointed a government technical team to dialogue with Public Affairs Committee (PAC) —a civil society, inter-faith organisation made up of the main Protestant, Catholic and Muslim faith groups in the country— on “matters of national interest.”
Minister of Information, Communication, Technology and Civic Education, Patricia Kaliati said the committee composition comprises Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Samuel Tembenu, who is also the chairperson and spokesperson of the government technical team; Dr. Collins Magalasi, Chief Economic Advisor and Executive Assistant to the President; Mavuto Bamusi, Special Advisor and Assistant to the President on NGOs and Civil Society; Dr. Peter Kumpalume, Minister of Health and Dr. Hetherwick Ntaba, Chief Advisor to the President on Domestic Policy.
Kaliati, who is government spokesperson, said President Mutharika “moved to appoint this team because he values and prioritises dialogue on matters of national interest.”
She said: “The President wishes both the Government technical team and the PAC fruitful dialogue as we build Malawi.”
The appointment of technical committee follows a meeting which ended on deadlock between President Mutharika and PAC on April 21 with the President categorically stating that his administration does not take deadlines from anyone.
PAC sought to brief Mutharika on recommendations made by delegates to its Fifth All-Inclusive Stakeholders Conference in Blantyre in February.
From the recommendations, PAC developed actionable resolutions on each thematic area, including governance, agriculture, economy and health. Delegates, notably opposition political parties—Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and People’s Party (PP)—called for Mutharika’s resignation and that call was inserted in a document present to Mutharika.
But government condemned PAC for being hostile towards Mutharika.
Father Peter Mulomole, PAC’s spokesperson, gave a newspaper interview on 27 April 2016 which he said President Mutharika seemed not to be aware of some critical issues .
“We had a tough exercise to discuss with the Head of State in a live broadcast given that he maintained from the outset that he had been transformative and that there was no need for some of the actionable solutions. And yet those issues have constantly been raised in all the three regions of Malawi,” Mulomole said.
He said: “ The President and his DPP may hate deadlines, but Malawians do not. So let the President not belittle what the conference has recommended. Malawians should not be taken for granted.”
Fr Mulomole said Malawi still lacks a listening and bold servant leadership.
“There is too much Executive arrogance. We lack the kind of leadership that is ready to make hard decisions the country needs on various issues such as Fertiliser Input Subsidy Programme, Green Belt Initiative, crop diversification, fiscal discipline, reduction of presidential powers, our flawed electoral system and reactionary Constitution. Most of the decisions that administrations have been making are for political convenience and not for real national development,” PAC spokesman said.
But government spokesperson said contrary to the dismissive and hostile stance taken by PAC, government still regard the religious grouping as partner in constructive dialogue towards finding solutions to Malawi’s longstanding challenges.
“PAC must respect the spirit of dialogue,” Kaliati said.
PAC said a follow up meeting of technical people will aim at clarifying and changing the documents and develop a way forward to the “Actionable Resolutions.”
Economic issues cited by PAC as requiring urgent government action included fiscal discipline, creation of a national planning commission, agricultural reforms in both irrigation and Fisp.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :