The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) has deferred a planned march to petition President Peter Mutharika and Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya to demand commitment on the tabling of Electoral Reforms Bills.
PAC executive director Robert Phiri said the scheduled petition presentation, initially planned for tomorrow, Tuesday November 21 2017, would not take place as arranged following advice from the Lilongwe City Council (LCC).
He said: “After presenting our letter [seeking permission to march], they [LCC] called us and advised that the council’s management was in Salima, therefore, there was no possibility of meeting them until they return on Saturday.
“Instead, they have suggested that we first meet them on Monday [today] to discuss the matter and that means we can’t present the petition on Tuesday so they have suggested Thursday.”
The PAC executive director said he was also quickly asking board members of the quasi-religious body to see if they could be available on Thursday after they committed to do so for tomorrow’s event.
There was no immediate comment from LCC, but communication The Nation has seen from LCC acting director of administration Stallichi Mwambiwa says based on the council’s working procedures, upon receiving such notifications, they convene a meeting with all stakeholders before the event takes place.
The concerned stakeholders include council officials, representatives of the organisers and police.
“Currently, we can meet on Monday, November 20 2017 to strategise on your course of action. We, therefore, seek your highest consideration to reschedule the march to preferably Thursday, November 23. This will enable all parties to have enough time based on the agreement to be drawn from our meeting,” reads part of the communication.
PAC wants to present a petition to Mutharika and Msowoya over the missing Electoral Reforms Bills on Parliament’s agenda during its current meeting.
Meanwhile, Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi has faulted PAC for its intentions to petition Mutharika over the absence of the Electoral Reforms Bills from the Parliament agenda.
In a telephone interview last week, the minister said there are laid down procedures which have to be followed for bills to be presented in Parliament which government is following; hence, PAC is ‘jumping the gun’ in planning to protest the absence of the electoral reforms bills on the government business agenda.
Said Dausi: “What PAC is doing is wrong. There is no need for them to protest over issues which government is following procedures on.”
On Wednesday last week, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu told Parliament that government will inform them when the bills will be tabled.
The minister, who was responding to questions from the opposition on the status of the bills, said Cabinet was still working on the bills.
In a statement issued after its emergency board meeting in Blantyre last Wednesday, PAC called on Malawians to support the peaceful march to ensure that both electoral and local government reforms are tabled in Parliament and thoroughly debated during the current sitting.