Influential quasi-religious grouping Public Affairs Committee (PAC) is set to elect new leadership this week amid caution from a section of the clergy accusing it of leaning towards politics.
Formed in 1992 by several religious groups initially to facilitate dialogue during the transition from one-party to plural politics with then president Hastings Kamuzu Banda through the Presidential Committee on Dialogue, PAC will start its annual general meeting (AGM) in Blantyre today to elect a new executive committee.
But in a telephone interview on Tuesday, Anglican Diocese of Upper Shire Bishop Brighton Malasa, who alongside a section of other members of the clergy formed Interfaith Forum for Peace, Justice and Dialogue that was widely seen as acting parallel to PAC on post-election dialogue, faulted PAC for allegedly leaning towards politics.
He said the political perception for the quasi-religious grouping was “a long standing problem”.
Said Malasa: “PAC should not be seen as a political party. It’s an organisation that stands on values and statutes of religious leaders. So, the role should be prophetic.”
He ruled out contesting for any position at the PAC AGM and instead pledged to support those ushered into leadership.
In a separate interview, PAC executive director Robert Phiri, who declined to react to Malasa’s sentiments, said the secretariat was still receiving nominations ahead of the AGM.
He said the positions up for grabs in the executive committee include chairperson, vice-chairperson, board secretary, publicity secretary, treasurer and three other members.
Incumbent PAC chairperson the Reverend Felix Chingota and publicity secretary Father Peter Mulomole are not eligible for re-election having served two consecutive terms of office.
Serving executive members eligible for re-election include vice-chairperson Osman Karim, board secretary Father Mark Mkandawire, treasurer Father Emmanuel Makalande and committee members the Reverend Matilda Matabwa, LoneyLaja and the Reverend Maureen Tchuwa who have only served one term each, according to a list The Nation has seen.
While Phiri said the AGM would only elect the executive committee, trustees will either be replaced or maintained by mother bodies that make up the quasi-religious grouping.
He also said that the ongoing shuttle diplomacy in the aftermath of the May 21 Tripartite Elections is not on the agenda, but members will likely be interested to have an update. He said other items on agenda include presentation of activity reports implemented since 2016.
Said Phiri: “One cannot rule out the possibility of members’ interest in the dialogue process we have been facilitating with political parties. It [the dialogue] is not part of the agenda, but it is part and parcel of activities being implemented.”
He said delegates to the AGM comprise all members who have been restricted to send representation ranging from two to five.
Founding members of PAC include the Anglican Diocese of Upper Shire, Anglican Diocese of Southern Malawi, CCAP Blantyre Synod, Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM), General Synod of CCAP, CCAP Livingstonia Synod, Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), Malawi Council of Churches (MCM) and Malawi Law Society (MLS).
Other member organisations include African Methodist Episcopal Church of Malawi, Africa Evangelical Church, Anglican Diocese of Northern Malawi, Blantyre Archdiocese of the Catholic Church, CCAP Nkhoma Synod, Central African Confederation of Seventh Day Baptist Church, Chikwawa Diocese of the Catholic Church, Dedza Diocese of the Catholic Church, Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM), Evangelical Lutheran Church of Malawi and Lilongwe Archdiocese of the Catholic Church.
Mangochi Diocese of the Catholic Church, Mzuzu Diocese of Catholic Chucrh, Providence Industrial Mission (PIM), Quadria Muslim Association of Malawi, United Evangelical Church of Malawi, United Methodist Church, Zambezi Evangelical Church, Zomba Diocese of the Catholic Church and Baptist Convention of Malawi also make up the PAC membership.
The grouping also has associate members in Christian Health Association of Malawi (Cham), Christian Service Committee of Malawi, Scripture Union and Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry.