The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) says it is under pressure from some delegates to act on resolutions made at its two-day all-inclusive stakeholders conference in Limbe last month.
One of the resolutions calls for Malawiâ€™s President Bingu wa Mutharika to resign within 60 days or call for a referendum on his leadership within 90 daysâ€”a development that has been strongly disputed by the Malawi Council of Churches (MCC) as having been made by the PAC Board.
The board includes MCC, the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), the Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM), the Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) and the Quadria Muslim Association of Malawi (QMAM).
â€˜People want progressâ€™
PAC publicity secretary the Reverend Maurice Munthali on Wednesday said people are asking for progress on the resolutions, to keep track before deciding on a way forward.
Said Munthali: “If the President does not accord us an audience like we asked, we will have no choice but to call for another conference for a decision. The conference is demand-driven and it is people who made the resignation call. If the same people demand for it, we will comply. We cannot give a specific time frame.”
MCC board chairperson Bishop Joseph Bvumbwe is on record to have disputed that the PAC Board made the resignation call. Bvumbwe said this in Lilongwe last week at a news briefing he jointly addressed with Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Environment Goodall Gondwe.
â€˜Resignation call was madeâ€™
But Munthali on Wednesday maintained that the resignation call was made. He said the PAC Board met soon after the Blantyre conference and agreed on the same.
Said Munthali: “We initially gave a 60-day ultimatum for the resignation and call for referendum within 90 days. We decided to remove the ultimatums and shift to an open-ended call for the resignation; effectively making the call even stronger.
“MCC is our mother body and I do not want to be seen to be in conflict with it. Our appeal to all Malawians is for them to stick to this call that was endorsed by the PAC Board, which was put in place by MCC. We are the representatives of MCC and it should learn to trust us and not to speak one thing when people have said another. Let it be clear in the minds of Malawians that the resolution made in Blantyre still stands.”
He said the ultimatums were removed because PAC listed, among its resolutions, some problems and issues it wanted the same government to sort out.
Munthali said PAC felt it would be contradictory to ask the same government to resign and at the same time resolve the issues within a given period of time; hence, the group agreed to make the request open-ended to allow time for assessment and response.
“If the 60 days had elapsed, it would have meant defeating the purpose for the calls because it would have meant an end to the resignation call,” said Munthali.
Bingu wonâ€™t resign
Mutharika has publicly declared he will not resign. The President, speaking in Mangochi recently after the PAC meeting, said he deliberately responded to the matter in public and that PAC should not expect another response apart from the one he gave in the lakeshore district during the commemoration of the World Water Day.
Munthali is on record as having said the groupâ€™s doors are still open and that the committee is optimistic that Mutharikaâ€™s door is also open for constructive discussions.
The PAC conference was organised to mobilise key stakeholders and various efforts towards a common agenda and collective redress to Malawiâ€™s political and economic challenges and to define a concerted strategy for engaging government in dealing with the present challenges Malawi is facing.