Malawians angry with PAC’s tone down

Malawian shave expressed dissatisfaction with the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) following its decision to rescind the 60-day ultimatum given to President Bingu wa Mutharika two weeks ago.

PAC, a grouping of religious leaders in Malawi, at its 14-15th March, 2012all-inclusive meeting called on Mutharika to resolve the country’s political and economic crisis failing which he should either resign within 60 days or call for a referendum to seek a fresh mandate in 90 days.

The ultimatum was part of the resolutions the body included in its draft communiqué issued at the end of its meeting held at the Limbe Cathedral of the Catholic Church in Blantyre.

Clergy at the PAC conference; Time to reclaim our destiny

However, in a dramatic turn of events PAC backtracked on its earlier resolve to force Mutharika out of office by removing the ultimatum in its final communiqué which it issued last week, a development that has angered most Malawians who feel are being taken for a ride.

Most people interviewed by Nyasa Times to hear their views on the issue condemned PAC for its decision saying the group has fooled them and may no longer have peoples’ trust.

“I would not be wrong to say that PAC is a group of fortune seekers,” said Steve Chindongo, a Blantyre based motor dealer.

“They are a bunch of cowards, they told us about their decision which every Malawian of concern to his country agreed with and how can they just reverse it without consulting us if we really don’t support it or we do support it?  If our leaders can be that weak what for an ordinary person, can we do anything?” queried Chindongo, “we are good at talking about revolution but I can bet nothing will ever change in this country until 2014 with such approach, we will keep on suffering.”

A 42-year-old business lady who owns a ladies and children’s wear shop in Limbe concurred with Chindongo saying disgruntled Malawians will continue complaining of the harsh realities of life but will never bring any change because “they are cowards.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the cross border trader said Malawians must never expect any revolution against the autocratic regime of Mutharika after last year’s foiled attempt on July 20-21, 2011.

“That should have been the start but after that I don’t see us doing anything. What PAC has done just confirms that we are cowards and I will never trust any activist again,” she said very furiously.

She said such reckless decisions are amplifying Mutharika to continue with his arrogance and tyranny because he knows that “whatever he does nobody will challenge him.”

Some people however feel PAC rescinded its decision after Mutharika, during a public rally in Mangochi, openly told the body off with its ultimatum and also declared he would see out his term in 2014 and would not resign as per the demand.

Mutharika also said he would not respond to PAC’s resolutions and instead he responded through state broadcaster MBC-TV whom he also instructed to make a recording of his speech and deliver it to the leadership of PAC and civil society organisations (CSOs) as his response.

However, one of the PAC leaders who also attended the two-day meeting, Bishop Joseph Bvumbwe defended PAC’s decision not to include the ultimatum in the final communiqué.

Bishop Bvumbwe, who is head of the Lutheran Church in Malawi and also chairman of the Malawi Council of Churches (MCC), said it was important for the body not to include the issue of ultimatum because it was not inclusively agreed.

 

“The issue was not discussed by the entire participants at the meeting, it was a section of the gathering that came up with that decision as such it was only fair not to include it in the final communiqué,” said Bishop Bvumbwe.

PAC Spokesperson Reverend Maurice Munthali, who all along had insisted that the body would not remove or add anything in the final communiqué from their commendations made at the meeting , also acknowledged the reasons for leaving out the ultimatum statement in the final document.

Munthali said they decided to drop it because they did not want to be in a fix should the 60 days and 90 days elapse without Mutharika resigning or calling for referendum respectively.

“The Pac board looked at the issue and felt it was not days that matter but the subject matter which is the call for resignation. We told the conference that after recommendations, we would sit down as a board and analytically look at how the recommendations could be implemented,” Munthali told a local daily.

Earlier, Munthali told Malawians that should the president fail to resign or call for referendum while the hardships continue causing havoc to Malawians, PAC would call for all citizens to go for civil disobedience.

Since PAC announced the 60-day ultimatum, comments have been trickling in from all corners. While others fully supported the move others cautioned PAC to tread carefully if it were to accomplish its mission.

Among others, President Mutharika is being accused of being arrogant, abusing human rights, imposing bad economic policies such as the zero deficit budget and failing to manage diplomatic relations, which has brought the country’s economy on its knees.

Under President Mutharika, Malawi has drastically deteriorated politically, economically and democratically from country on the move between 2004 and 2009 to a country bordering on a failed state since 2010.

During the past three years, there has also been a sharp rise in the cost of living with basic items doubling almost everyday, businesses shrinking, people losing their jobs everyday and that the zero deficit budget has put a lot of tax burdens on Malawians.

Among others, the final communiqué has asked government to urgently repeal the bad laws and to cooperate with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other development partners.

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