The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) on Wednesday engaged the Rastafarian community through the Nyabhingi National Council of Malawi as part of ongoing mediation on the dress code dispute in public schools.
In a telephone interview yesterday, PAC executive director Robert Phiri said the meeting took place at Sunbird Mount Soche in Blantyre and that it was the first time for the quasi-religious body to engage the council.
He said: “Dialogue will continue because yesterday [Wednesday] the joint technical team wanted to understand the dress code from their perspective.”
The Ministry of Education asked PAC to intervene in the dress code dispute following a conflict between Muslims and Christians at M’manga Primary and Community Day Secondary schools in Balaka pertaining to the wearing of the Islamic female headgear, hijab, by female learners.
The letter also tasked PAC to extend its scope to the Rastafarians and Jehovah’s Witnesses, adding that after reviewing the religious dress code, it should recommend to government.
On progress made to date, Phiri said the joint technical team has submitted its report to PAC board of governance.
In a separate telephone interview, Nyabhingi National Council of Malawi spokesperson Ras Elder Patrick Galawanda, who is also chairperson for the council’s Central Region chapter, described Wednesday’s meeting with PAC as fruitful.
He said: “We discussed a lot of issues, we explained how we prefer our children to be treated in terms of dressing and we enjoyed the discussions.”
Phiri said PAC wanted to resume dialogue on the matter after the June 23 2020 court-sanctioned fresh presidential election, but the billboard dispute between Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) and Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) emerged which the parties settled amicably.
The billboard carried the message: “If you have read the Old Testament and New Testament, now read the last Testament, Quran.”
A day after the billboard was put up, it was vandalised by unknown people.