Public Affairs Committee (PAC), a multi-faith human rights, democracy and accountability watchdog, says planned nationwide demonstrations will proceed tomorrow despite government circulating all pieces of legislation among members of Parliament (MPs).
In an interview on Monday, PAC executive director Robert Phiri said the demonstrations are beyond the tabling of the six Electoral Reforms Bills.
But PAC said there could always be a “consideration” to call off the demonstrations because the secretariat has been in constant touch with Parliament besides the fact that there are other stakeholders in making the decision.
Initially, PAC was pushing for the tabling of all the Electoral Reforms Bills as a package following government’s reluctance to take the pieces of legislation to Parliament for debate.
Said Phiri: “As it stands now, irrespective of whether the Bills have been tabled, the demonstrations are on in all the four cities unless we [PAC secretariat] are advised otherwise by the executive board.”
On Monday, government circulated the contentious 50 percent plus one Bill, but after Cabinet made modifications to it so that it also applies to MPs and councillors.
Phiri expressed concern with the development saying Cabinet has now made a “new formulation of the Bill” and not the one recommended by the Special Law Commission.
He further clarified that PAC was only organising the protests in the four cities while some of the body’s members are supporting the protests by organising in the districts.
“As PAC we are proceeding in the four cities. For the districts it was PAC mother bodies giving support by organising the protests in some of the districts,” he said.
Meanwhile, PAC has assured protesters of maximum security in all the routes to be used.
“Security is well provided because we have had several planning meetings with stakeholders such as the city councils and police in all the four cities on the matter.
“Besides the physical security we will provide, these [protests] are led by the faith community so God is also on our side and will direct everything. We don’t doubt the power of God that’s why our moto is; By the Grace of God we shall succeed,” said Phiri.
In addition to police, each city has assembled its own marshals with Blantyre and Lilongwe having over 120 and 100 marshals, respectively.
“Perhaps this could be a surprise that in all the cities we may not even have a violent incident as people are thinking, so we are urging all Malawians to come and participate without being afraid of anything,” he said.
There had been positive response from nearly all quarters of the society since the influential quasi-religious body announced its intention to hold the nationwide demonstrations.