The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) is today meeting former president Bakili Muluzi at his private BCA residence from 10am on the current political developments currently characterised by violence.
PAC executive director Robert Phiri said in an interview yesterday that the meeting with the former head of State has been necessitated by their mandate that gives them authority to meet with anyone in the dialogue process.
He said: “The team is mandated to engage any political player in the pursuit of dialogue facilitation based on the Terms of Reference [ToRs] given to them by the PAC Board of Governance.
“In light of this, it was felt that the team should engage the former head of State in that capacity. The mediation team can engage any other political players, depending on how dialogue evolves.”
Phiri said since their intervention seeks to enhance peace in view of the current spate of violent acts, PAC will reach out to UTM Party, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and then President Peter Mutharika.
While saying PAC may reach out to the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), Phiri said prospects of meeting former president Joyce Banda will be tackled in their meeting with Tonse Alliance leaders, as she is also part of the alliance.
He said they had initially planned to meet with the Malawi Police Service but could not do so as the Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) already met the law enforcers; hence, they did not want a repeat of the same issues discussed.
PAC’s initiative follows the signing of a peace pact of the main political parties that took part in the disputed May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections. The governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) did not sign the pact.
But Phiri said the current dialogue is a continuation of the process, not a separate initiative.
When asked on how they intend to meet with UTM Party and MCP, who have formed the Tonse Alliance together with six other parties, Phiri said they separately booked appointments.
“As regards the modalities for engagements, the two parties are at liberty to advise the team [PAC],” Phiri said.
In addition, he said since dialogue depends on acceptance to the requests they send to the parties, the process will be dictated by their availability.
When contacted, Muluzi confirmed receiving the invitation and said he was ready to meet PAC.
He said briefly: “Yes the Archbishop [Thomas] Msusa called to seek for a meeting with me and I accepted.”
On Tuesday this week, both presidential press secretary and spokesperson Mgeme Kalilani and UTM Party director of publicity said Joseph Chidanti-Malunga said they were open to PACs initiative.
However, recently, Mutharika has come under heavy criticism for alleging that opposition political party leaders initiated the prevailing political violence.
Mutharika in a statement said despite his calls against violence, the problem was still continuing.
He specifically mentioned MCP president Lazarus Chakwera, who is leading the nine-party Tonse Alliance, as having inaugurated violence after he allegedly declared to shed blood in May 2019.
Similar remarks were also made by Minister of Homeland Security Nicholas Dausi, who told The Nation this week that opposition political parties were responsible for the radicalisation of youths during the post-May 2019 elections.
Meanwhile, a governance expert, Rafiq Hajat, yesterday said the spectre of violence in the political arena ought to be of great concern to citizens because it symbolises growing intolerance that has crept into the country.
In an interview yesterday, he said the violence is resulting from loss of trust in leadership.
Said Hajat: “This phenomenon is perhaps derived from loss of credibility and respect for political leadership in the public mindset of Malawians who were once renowned for extraordinary respect for authority.”
Hajat, who is also Institute of Policy Interaction executive director, said with the already dwindling economy devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s future looks uncertain due to the escalating acts of political violence.
In the aftermath of the disputed May 21 disputed polls, PAC mediation team embarked on a dialogue initiative to pacify the DPP, UTM Party, MCP and the HRDC, who were disputing the poll results.