The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) is today scheduled to start meeting the rest of the presidential candidates in the May 20 Tripartite Elections the civil society, interfaith organisation left out in its interface meetings.
PAC’s position follows concerns from four presidential aspirants in a letter dated March 10 2014 petitioning PAC to express serious reservations on suspected preferential approach on meetings it held with five of the 11 confirmed presidential candidates.
In their letter to PAC chairperson the Reverend Felix Chingota, the four presidential candidates, Friday Jumbe representing the New Labour Party (NLP), Kamuzu Chibambo of the People’s Transformation Party (Petra), Helen Singh of the United Independent Party (UIP) and George Nnensa of the Malawi Forum for Developmet (Mafunde) but leading Tisintha Coalition in the elections, said they had previously taken PAC as a body that promotes good governance hence their expectation that it would have given each presidential candidate an opportunity to be heard.
Reads the letter in part: “Singling out political parties at this point would, in our view, be presumptuous. It is not clear whether or not PAC still intends to accord the rest of the political parties equal treatment except time is fleeting away given the fact that the official campaign will be kick-started in about 10 days.
“However, we wish to express our serious reservation to PAC’s preferential approach assuming the process has concluded. If at all we have jumped the gun, then please take this letter as a mere reminder.”
PAC recently met five presidential candidates out of the 11 that have had their nomination papers approved by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).
The presidential candidates PAC met are incumbent President Joyce Banda of the People’s Party (PP), Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Atupele Muluzi of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and Mark Katsonga Phiri of the People’s Progressive Movement (PPM).
PAC executive director Robert Phiri, in a response to a questionnaire on Monday, confirmed that his organisation received the letter from the concerned parties and that he forwarded it to both PAC trustees and executive committee members.
Yesterday, Phiri said PAC has since resolved to meet the rest of the presidential candidates starting from today.
Phiri had indicated in the earlier interview that PAC was not sidelining any presidential candidate, but that the organisation relies on donor support.
In an earlier interview, Chingota said the five initially interviewed were chosen using random sampling.
Meanwhile, Phiri disclosed that PAC is meeting President Banda this Friday after PAC’s recent resolutions, which among them, recommended that the President must stop distribution of maize.
Banda has already rejected PAC’s recommendation in her public pronouncements.
PAC was founded as a broad-based movement for change from the one-party system to multiparty democracy between 1992 and 1994. Its membership comprises the main Protestant, Catholic and Muslim faith groups in the country.