Delegates to the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) 5th All-Inclusive Stakeholders Conference have called for speedy implementation of the resolutions passed at the just-ended two-day conference held in Blantyre from Wednesday to Thursday.
The quasi-religious institution held the indaba under the theme “Defining Solutions to Economic and Political Direction in Malawi” to find solutions to challenges dogging the country where delegates made several recommendations.
PAC said its executive board would convene next week to analyse the recommendations made before producing a final communiqué for action.
Among the contentious recommendations some delegates made included the resignation of President Peter Mutharika within 30 days, declaration of the current maize shortage as a national crisis and criminalisation of handouts.
In separate interviews with Weekend Nation yesterday most delegates observed that such resolutions have been made in several forums and it was time to turn rhetoric into action.
Chairperson of Council for Non-governmental Organisations (Congoma) Macbain Mkandawire said Malawians expect government to take action on all issues raised.
“Failure to do so will just show that government has total disregard of the people it claims to serve. The beauty of it is that the issues were raised in the presence of Cabinet ministers. Nothing was discussed in camera, so there is no fear or favour on what happened.
“The most critical part is that government should take stock of what happened and act on the recommendations for the progress of the country. If they don’t, that is pushing Malawians too far and taking them for granted,” said Mkandawire.
On its part, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) said the conference was timely with a collective voice coming out from different sectors of the society on the decaying socio-economic situation in the country.
MCP spokesperson Jessie Kabwila, however, bemoaned lack of a roadmap to outline concrete solutions to the challenges and deadlines given about when Malawians will see change.
She said the party would have loved if deadlines were given about when government would make available maize in Admarc and when they will step down and “hand over power to an interim government.”
Said Kabwila: “The meeting exposed how clueless the DPP [Democratic Progressive Party] administration is in running the affairs of the country. At least the feeling that we are in a disastrous crisis came out from all the sectors.”
United Democratic Front (UDF) spokesperson Ken Ndanga agreed with Mkandawire saying the resolutions, on their own, were nothing but the action that has been lacking from previous similar conferences.
Said Ndanga: “We have become a country that is very good at bringing out issues but with no action which is what the citizens expect to see.”
Former ruling People’s Party (PP) administrative and publicity secretary Ken Msonda said instead of benefitting from the huge Cabinet ministers’ attendance, Malawians missed an opportunity because government failed to inspire hope given the issues raised during the conference.
Said Msonda: “In simple terms, their huge presence did not add any value apart from confirming that executive is clueless on solutions to problems the country is facing.”
He, however, said his party was concerned with PAC’s decision not to announce the resolutions immediately after the conference.
Said Msonda: “Our expectation as a party was that we will follow the tradition that immediately after the conference, we will come up with the resolutions together and not leave it to the board to meet again to come up with the resolutions.
“That is a bit disappointing but because we have trust in PAC we just hope and believe that whatever we have given them as recommendations will be taken into consideration.”
Government spokesperson Jappie Mhango said government was not under panic during the deliberations.
Said Mhango: “We were not fearing anything. Government’s [dominant] presence was not to defend anything but to respond to the call and provide answers to issues after PAC invited us to the meeting.
“There were only eight of us, you can check the figures.”
However, there were more than 11 people from government, among them Goodall Gondwe, Mhango, Hetherwick Ntaba, Yacinta Chikaonda, Samuel Tembenu, Henry Mussa, Patricia Kaliati, George Chaponda, Mabvuto Bamusi, Vuwa Kaunda, Collins Magalasi, Bon Kalindo, Themba Mkandawire, apart from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials.
Commenting on the meeting, Mhango said it was well organised and hoped that it will have a good impact.
“We contributed well and we have submitted what people wanted and everybody worked to the betterment of Malawians, it was just three people; Jessie Kabwila, Kamlepo Kalua and Ken Msonda who wanted to destabilise the meeting.
“[Asking the President to resign] was ridiculous, it was bad, and three people cannot talk like that to the government which was elected by people,’’ he said.
PAC executive director Robert Phiri said yesterday that the PAC board will meet either Monday or Tuesday next week to come up with the recommendations and thereafter a communiqué.
Phiri said people should wait for the board meeting.
“On Monday or Tuesday the board will meet, once the board meets, then we will look at the progress and recommendations and the communiqué will come out on the key observations by delegates.
“After that, the same board will give guidance to management to book appointments with authorities. These authorities can be the Speaker or Presidency or Judiciary or Cabinet ministers. Further to that, there will be a follow up to the resolutions on what we agreed with the authorities,” he said. n