A two-day meeting organised by a grouping of religious leaders, Public Affairs Committee (PAC) meant to discuss political and economic challenges in Malawi started on Wednesday morning at Limbe Catholic Cathedral in Blantyre despite threats from Bingu wa Mutharika regime.
Government successfuly stopped Sunbird Mount Soche Hotel from holding the meeting but failed to press Roman Catholic Church to block the meeting at their premises.
The authorities fear PAC is plotting “regime change” through an all inclusive stakeholders meeting.
But despite heavy presence of security forces and intimidation, many religious leaders, activists, opposition political leaders, media practitioners, lawyers and observers attended the meeting.
Bishop James Tengatenga chairperson of the conference gave a very touching opening speech, justifying the theme of the conference, “Time to reclaim our destiny- Seeking redress to political and economic redress”.
He said to reclaim does not mean to stage a coup but “to rearrange the deranged”.
The Bishop quoted Section 12 of the constitution about leaders having sustained trust of the people to govern.
“We are here today to maintain the original vision of democracy and reclaim our destiny,” he said to a thundering applause.
He noted that things have “ fallen apart” economically, socially and politically, hence the need for the conference to find solutions.
“Reclaim does not mean remove but take back. Time to come up with solutions, the crisis has been discussed for too long. Now is the time for solutions,” he said.
The Bishop added: “It’s not about few individuals starting the war but spiritual and intellectual discussion.”
Presidential spokesman Hetherwick Ntaba claimed the meeting would propose “to call for a referendum” against President Bingu wa Mutharika “failing which people will be called to a mass demonstration against the government.”
PAC official Rev Maurice Munthali insists the meeting has no “sinister motives apart from letting people express themselves to find lasting political and economic solutions”.
The activists are also alarmed at chronic fuel and foreign currency shortages, blaming Mutharika for mess because of his obstinate leadership.