Tempers flared again at the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) Sixth All-Inclusive Stakeholders Conference in Blantyre yesterday after some delegates to the two-day gathering demanded the removal of President Peter Mutharika.
The same calls were made during PAC’s All-Inclusive Stakeholder Conference last year by People’s Party (PP) third vice-president Kamlepo Kalua and former spokesperson Ken Msonda, now in the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) camp.
Yesterday, what started as peaceful deliberations earlier in the day degenerated into unpleasant moments when some delegates hurled insults at government’s representatives.
Tension swallowed up the conference room after People’s Party (PP) secretary general Ibrahim Matola, in his contribution, alleged that the Mutharika’s administration was full of “professional thieves.”
But the hostility intensified a few minutes later when the self-acclaimed leader of People’s Land Organisation Vincent Wandale and human rights activist Billy Mayaya demanded the resignation of Mutharika.
“I want to request that in the name of fairness, we should remove the President and his team and perhaps have the Vice-President take over,” said Wandale.
The proposition provoked the government side which, led by the ruling DPP Central Region vice-president Hetherwick Ntaba, protested the objective of the discussions.
Standing on a point of order, the visibly charged Ntaba demanded to know from the organisers the theme of the conference, arguing that as government they had come to discuss serious national issues.
Said Ntaba: “I would like to appeal for order. I think we have very serious national issues to discuss, but what is happening now is a disgrace.
“Let us know if the theme is regime change because we have not come here for that. We came here for serious business that needs serious attention. If it is about regime change, we are ready to stand up to that; we can challenge that; we can be worse than that.”
Some prominent delegates such as PAC founding member the Reverend Misanjo Kansilanga, Catholic Bishop Thomas Msusa and gender activist Emmie Chanika opposed the motion by Wandale and Mayaya to remove Mutharika.
Bishop Msusa said PAC had no mandate to remove the President as it was only a religious body and not a political party.
On her part, Chanika, while making reference to other countries where sudden change of government brought chaos and anguish, wondered who would take over government if PAC brought down the Mutharika administration.
During the 5th All Inclusive Conference held in February last year, Kalua gave Mutharika 90 days to resign but the issue also received divided opinion from the delegates.