Efforts by the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) to secure commitments from presidential candidates in the May 20, 2014 Tripartite Elections to peaceful resolution of any emerging conflict are commendable because, as rightly observed, peace remains one of the country’s most valuable assets which must be jealously guarded.
Despite the regrettable loss of life after the 2004 elections, generally our polls have been peaceful when compared with what has happened in countries like Kenya, Zimbabwe and the Ivory Coast. That does not mean there is no need for vigilance by everyone concerned because there are already signs that our innocence as a peaceful country is endangered.
That said, it is difficult not to question how PAC is engaging the various political parties. In all its engagement with political parties, the body is purportedly acting on behalf of the public. Malawians were promised that there would be some sort of report from the meetings with presidential candidates. Before that has been done, the organisation is taking a further step.
PAC may be full of good intentions but if it expects political leaders to be open and transparent on what they will do once voted into power, it must lead by example by being transparent with the people whose interests, one would like to believe, it is trying to serve. A group of clergymen cannot just sit somewhere and decide what is good for Malawians without seeking their views.
By way of practising what it preaches, one hopes PAC will sooner or later report to the public through whatever means what they gathered during the discussions with presidential candidates. Meeting the leaders in camera was a problem in itself, but people understood in the hope that they would later get an idea of what transpired. Moving on as if the public’s interest does not matter is not good for the image of the faith-based grouping.