Malawi Government and civil society dialogue teams are yet to set a date for their next meeting after the two sides were forced to cancel their scheduled meeting on January 12 2012.
The two sides met last October and were scheduled to meet again in January, but the meeting failed after Kenya-based United Nations (UN) Under Secretary General Sahle-Work Zewde, who is mediating in the talks, failed to show up.
In interviews this week, both leaders of the Presidential Committee on Government Dialogue retired Archbishop Bernard Malango of the Anglican Church, and the NGOs dialogue team leader Voice Mhone said so far a new date has not been set.
Malango said the last meeting failed because Zewde had issues to sort out before continuing with the mediation.
“Probably, we are going to meet in February, but a date has not yet been set,” he said.
On the long break that has so far created doubts on the future of the dialogue, Malango said as government side, they have taken advantage of the time to meet and consult stakeholders on issues raised by the CSOs.
Said Malango: “Next week we will be meeting government officials such as principal secretaries and other responsible officers. We cannot say we really have challenges. So far we have been successful.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Mhone said one of the challenges is ZewdeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s failure to show up.
He said another challenge was that before January 12, government organised a briefing workshop with stakeholders on January 11 in ZombaÃ¢â‚¬â€a situation that led to a proposal to change venue of the meeting from Salima to Zomba. He, however, said the proposal came late and the members of the dialogue team felt it was inappropriate.
Mhone said civil society has also been meeting to work on a position paper with a clear road map of their expectation from the dialogue process.
UN Resident Representative Richard Dictus could not say why Zewde did not show up and what issues the UN was involved in, saying he is not privy to what is going on between the UN and Malawi on the matter.
“As far as I know, frequent contacts between my headquarters in New York and the Malawi Government are taking place and as I am not privy to contents of consultations, it would not be correct to comment,” he said.