The future of dialogue meetings between Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and government on matters of national interest looks bleak following a fresh call from the quasi-religious body to have the talks’ approach redesigned.
PAC suspended the talks last month accusing the government negotiating team, chaired by Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu, of lacking commitment.
President Peter Mutharika appointed the team in line with the outcome of an audience he had with PAC on April 21 2016 where the religious body presented to him resolutions from its February 2016 Fifth All-Inclusive Stakeholders Conference.
However, PAC executive director Robert Phiri said in an interview yesterday that at its meeting, the body’s executive committee resolved to open up for further dialogue should there be any communication from government but with new terms of reference (ToRs).
He said: “The essence of that dialogue will be different because at the time we entered into that dialogue it was focusing on certain things but now with the lapse of time the TORs would be different. But we would hear from the government side in terms of what we could dialogue.”
Phiri was reacting to Mutharika’s special adviser on civil society and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) Mavuto Bamusi, who is also part of the government team, who told The Nation they were now ready to proceed with the talks.
Phiri said there was no communication from the government side yet, Phiri emphasised his body.
“So, we are not compromising on our roadmap… That will remain the same while we accept that dialogue is a mechanism in terms of dealing with various contentious issues,” he said.
Among the ToRs, the two parties were to develop a roadmap for conversation on recommendations and actionable resolutions on the political and economic direction of the country, examine government’s written response to recommendations and actionable resolutions in terms of scope and depth, issue Joint communiqués informing the public on the progress of dialogue given that issues in the PAC report are of national interest and also attend a 5+1 All-inclusive Stakeholders Conference which is a monitoring mechanism on the implementation of resolutions and recommendations.
While expressing concern with PAC’s position, Bamusi said the government team will wait for direction from Tembenu and Mutharika.
Since Mutharika appointed the government team, which also has Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume and another presidential aide Hetherwick Ntaba, the two parties only met on May 16 2016 in Blantyre.
The development compelled PAC to accuse government of not showing any commitment towards the process, saying the dialogue process will not generate the desired result.