Two weeks after President Peter Mutharika met the leadership of the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) in a meeting that ended in a deadlock, the two parties have opened fresh dialogue with the President yesterday unveiling a five-member mediation team.
The team is expected to engage with PAC, an interfaith grouping comprising the main Catholic, Protestant and Muslim faiths in the country, on matters of national interest.
PAC has since confirmed being notified about the composition of the government team.
In a statement signed by Minister of Information, Communications Technology and Civic Education Patricia Kaliati, government’s technical Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu who is also chairperson and spokesperson of the appointed team and the President’s chief economic adviser and executive assistant Collins Magalasi.team comprises Minister of
Other members are special adviser and assistant to the President on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society organisations (CSOs) Mavuto Bamusi; Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume and presidential chief adviser on domestic policy Hetherwick Ntaba.
“The President moved to appoint this team because he values and prioritises dialogue on matters of national interest. The President wishes both government technical team and the PAC fruitful dialogue as we build Malawi,” reads the statement.
PAC executive director Robert Phiri, speaking in a telephone interview last evening, confirmed receiving the letter yesterday afternoon indicating that government has appointed a five-member technical committee to engage with them.
He said: “In principle, I have already confirmed with the government side that the meeting should take place next week as proposed by them in their letter to us.
“So far, on my desk started is to communicate to the board members and get directions in terms of what is going to the composition of our technical team.”what I have already
On PAC’s reaction to government’s appointment, Phiri said the inter-faith democracy watchdog was already alerted about the development to a certain extent and it was only waiting for an official communication.
He said: “We were communicated that the government side would do so. Two weeks ago we got a phone call indicating to say this would materialise. The only thing which we were waiting for is the formal communication and to know as to what would be the technical team from their side so that we could also compose the number similar to their number.”
The engagement the two sides are going to have follows two hours of deliberations between the President and PAC led by its chairperson the Reverend Felix Chingota that ended in a stalemate on April 21 with the President categorically stating that his administration does not take deadlines from anyone.
Despite that the meeting ended in deadlock, one positive development was that both sides agreed to hold follow up meetings through technical committees.
During the meeting held at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe and beamed live on taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), PAC asked Mutharika to start walking the talk on his campaign promises.
Through the long-awaited meeting which kept being postponed, PAC sought to brief Mutharika on recommendations made by delegates to its Fifth All-Inclusive Stakeholders Conference in Blantyre in February.
From the recommendations, PAC developed actionable resolutions on each thematic area, including governance, agriculture, economy and health. Delegates, notably opposition political parties—Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and People’s Party (PP)—called for Mutharika’s resignation.
However, when the PAC board analysed and consolidated the proposals, it left out the resignation calls in its final 21 resolutions.
Later it transpired that while PAC had skipped the recommendation in its oral presentation during the meeting with the President, the quasi-religious body’s text carried the resignation call. This development angered government with Kaliati hitting at PAC for inserting the recommendation in the final text to the President.