The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) says despite the change of leadership in the country, Malawians still need to review democratic challenges and constitutional gaps that still exist to realise real democracy.
In a narrative report of the March 2012 All-Inclusive Stakeholders Conference, PAC says there should be a follow-up conference to, among other things, consider the view that the presidency has â€œtoo much powers in Malawi.â€
PAC executive director Robert Phiri confirmed in an interview on Monday there was a strong call for a follow-up conference to identify few key issues that could restore Malawiâ€™s democratic vision and norms.
Said Phiri: â€œDuring the last conference, there was a key observation that the presidency has too much power in Malawi. This is what we heard and what we hear so far. Of course, we are not referring to anybody, but the office and whoever assumes that office.
â€œAs such, PAC will consult on which provisions in our legal framework are a source of impediment in realising political will. We must look at the systems that govern power and limit the exercise of unreasonable authority.
â€˜People should speak their mindâ€™
Phiri said it may be too early to say comprehensively what the conference would deliberate on, but he said in its advocacy role, PAC wants people to speak out their mind as far as democracy was concerned.
He said the leadership change does not mean that democracy has been achieved; hence, the follow up conference would help share experiences and focus on new opportunities and challenges.
Said Phiri: â€œWe donâ€™t want to pre-empt, but we anticipate that issues regarding our political architecture and the whole constitutionalism may be of relevance, coupled with the 2014 tripartite electoral process. Time is not on our side. We must tighten our belts now.â€
The report also reveals that the Limbe Cathedral Conference, which received the then governmentâ€™s bashing, was funded by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (Osisa).
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration then said PAC was working with opposition leaders to plan an unconstitutional regime change.
Too much power on Presidency
In an interview on Monday, Chancellor College political science associate professor Blessings Chinsinga supported the notion that the Presidency as an institution has â€œtoo muchâ€ power.
He also supported the idea of a follow-up conference, saying although there has been a change as prayed for at the conference in March, the country needs working systems more than just individuals.
Chinsinga said the presidency, as an institution, has too much of both formal and informal powers that are not subjected to checks and balances as such a follow-up conference would re-examine such excessive powers, he said.
Minister of Information and government spokesperson Moses Kunkuyu on Monday said government welcomes the proposal by PAC to have the conference because it was in line with the mandate of the religious body of ensuring good governance and democratic tendencies in Malawi.
On the presidency having too much powers, the minister said such a view is understandable because people have cried foul in the way those excessive powers have been abused previously which, he said, will not be the case under President Joyce Banda.