While commending government for a number of initiatives it took in 2017, the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) has described 2017 as a lost opportunity to deal with violence, fight corruption and turnround the fortunes of the country by withdrawing the Electoral Reforms Bills.
PAC chairperson Reverend Felix Chingota in an e-mailed response on Thursday commended government for ensuring that the grain reserves were well stocked with maize; for passing some pieces of legislation to deal with crimes against people living with albinism and for launching the National Peace Architecture policy document.
“The project started with the Joyce Banda administration. This is a case in point in which a current administration takes over a project which was started by a previous administration,” said Chingota.
He also commended government for implementing the National Registration campaign.
But he bemoaned the spate of violence perpetrated by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) cadets over which no one has been arrested.
“One such good example happened during the cultural festival of the Tumbukas known as Gonapamuhanya. The deputy major of Lilongwe City Council also had to leave a State function at Bicc [Bingu International Convention Centre] for fear of being harassed by DDP cadets.
“In Thyolo, during the Chilembwe Day celebrations, the leader of the opposition in Parliament had to be whisked away for fear of being attacked by DPP cadets,” he said.
Chingota also said corruption continued in 2017 in spite of conferences on anti-corruption held in Lilongwe and Mangochi.
He also said it was worrisome that the US Ambassador Virginia Palmer has threatened that her country would withdraw the Millennium Challenge Account.
Chingota also bemoaned the lack of interest on the part of government to continue dialoguing with PAC to chart the way forward to implement actionable solutions which would have turnedround the country’s economic and political situation.
He said another golden opportunity to turnround the fortunes of the country was lost when the government ‘withdrew’ the Electoral Reforms Bills from Parliament.
“I have deliberately used the term ‘withdrew’ because this is what actually happened in Parliament. Otherwise, how does one explain the behaviour of government whereby it presents in Parliament Bills which it has prepared and then allows its own legislators to shoot them down?” he said.
The Electoral Reforms Bills consists six bills of which one is meant to change the system of electing a president from the current first-past-the-post to where a winning president has to acquire more than 50 percent of the votes.
PAC, which called off peaceful marches it had organised to pressure government to table the bills—after government agreed to table five of the six Bills—has said its board would meet in January 2018 to decide on the way forward on the matter.