The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) All-Inclusive Stakeholders Conference, expected to discuss the cashgate scandal and the handling of the matter by government, has been slated for February 24 this year.
PAC executive director Robert Phiri confirmed in an interview on Sunday that the conference, to be held at a venue yet to be identified, would gather at least 90 participants, especially key stakeholders who participated in the previous similar event.
He said it was the expectation of PAC, a democracy watchdog comprising religious bodies, that delegates to the conference would discuss issues with sober minds as the aim was to come up with resolutions that could be respected by all governments that would come beyond the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections.
Said Phiri: “Yes, we recognise that this could be a hot issue, but our conference will cover broader issues beyond cashgate. We are aware that people will raise it. It is our view that we have to look at issues with a sober mind rather than being emotional. We will be looking at principles rather than personality issues.”
Sources told The Nation late last year that PAC would not stop delegates to the third All-Inclusive Stakeholders Conference to call for the resignation of Malawi President Joyce Banda if the forensic audit will link her name to the looting of public funds at Capital Hill.
A similar conference in March 2012 gave a 60-day ultimatum to former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika to address various challenges facing the country at that time, including the scarcity of forex and fuel.
Mutharika died midway the 60 days ultimatum and PAC board and other stakeholders organised a follow up conference whose outcome were presented to Banda at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre.
However, Phiri in an interview on Sunday said the objective of the conference is to have resolutions that can help turn around our country which will soon be 50 years old.
“PAC conference has been slated for 24-27 February, 2014. We target to invite at least 90 participants who will deliberate on issues surrounding transparency and accountability, and how best Malawians can insulate against constant changes to existing policies in line with High Level Development Council,” he said.
He said the organisation was aiming at enhancing constructive broad-based debate so that deep-rooted challenges were dealt with by any government that comes in power.
Said Phiri: “So, we will not be looking at personality issues but principles and issues that can be respected by any government that gets in power. Of course, PAC will allow participants to freely express their views constructively. We are building on previous outcomes of PAC conferences.
“We have shared our ideas with the State side and I think they do understand our role and objective of the gathering. In no way are we targeting the government. We are partners in development.”
Phiri said the conference would have presentations on the first day and come up with resolutions which would be shared with relevant authorities on the second day.