The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) has reached out to key political parties in the forthcoming presidential election to engage them in peace dialogue following escalating cases of political violence in the country.
But University of Malawi Chancellor College-based political science lecturer Ernest Thindwa says President Peter Mutharika and Minister of Homeland Security Nicholas Dausi hold the key to ending the current wave of political violence cases.
PAC executive director Robert Phiri, in a written response on Tuesday, said the secretariat has written UTM Party and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) of the Tonse Alliance who have since assured the committee of their willingness to participate in the exercise.
He said they will also engage the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) Alliance as a continuation of PAC’s post-May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections peace dialogue efforts that now have a revised focus based on emerging political developments in the country.
The post-May 2019 elections peace dialogue sought to pacify the conflict that arose between the DPP and Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), endorsed by UTM Party and MCP, who were disputing the presidential election results.
Said Phiri: “We decided to re-engage the concerned parties based on an agreement last year that dialogue could resume after the court ruling [on the elections case].
“Now that the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal has finally settled the matter, we feel duty-bound to dialogue with the concerned parties.”
On his part, PAC spokesperson Bishop Gilford Matonga said their aim is to bring all parties together before the fresh presidential poll so as to calm the political situation even beyond the presidential election.
Both UTM Party director of publicity Joseph Chidanti-Malunga and residential press secretary Mgeme Kalilani in separate interviews said they were ready to engage with PAC.
But in an interview, Thindwa said PAC should instead engage Mutharika and Dausi as the two hold the key to addressing political violence.
He said: “PAC is better advised to engage the two as they hold the ultimate authority to shape how Malawi Police Service is perceived and provides security to citizens.
“Any initiative which does not attract support from the two offices to let the police apprehend and prosecute perpetrators of violence regardless of political inclination is likely to be futile.”