Part of the definition of democracy says ‘it is a government for the people’; therefore, it is not wrong for Malawians to question the government in power, which is there to serve them. More, importantly, people expect the government to respond to their queries or whatever they are saying.
Unfortunately, this seems not to be the case with the DPP-led government. Any suggestion is perceived to be the voice of opposition parties who are considered as failures. For goodness’ sake, even if it is the opposition parties querying government, so what? After all, those people in the opposition parties have the same rights as those in government or the ruling party.
Meanwhile, by failing to respond to people, the government must know that it is sending a wrong message of telling people to shut up. Such are dictatorship tendencies which have no room in a democracy. In the same vein of not willing to respond to people, it is now clear that the discussions between the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and government are dead and buried. This is very unfortunate. President Peter Mutharika and his government should know better that failing to respond to the PAC report is the highest order of shunning the people of Malawi. The report had views from Malawians across the country, and more importantly, they charted the way forward on how best to be governed. Needless to say that if all stakeholders had known that the PAC report would yield nothing, they would have not wasted their time discussing and coming up with recommendations to the President.
So far the government spokesperson Patricia Kaliati MP has come up with a statement on the failed dialogue. From the statement, government seems to be faulting PAC for disregarding that the government side was busy with the sitting of Parliament. The fact is that PAC might have been seen to be in a hurry because some of the actionable resolutions had proposed time-frames which were supposed to be adhered to, to make the resolutions meaningful. Now, after all is said, the fact still remains that the President has failed to respond to issues Malawians raised during the All-Inclusive PAC conference.
Indeed, people have the right to question government and the leadership. Some of the ways to do this is through petitions and peaceful demonstrations. Surprisingly, the government looks at petitions as if they are illegal; hence petitions are not taken seriously. As soon as a petition to the President is delivered to the DC or city council, the story ends there. What usually follows are castigations and name-calling of petitioners by government agents on the public radio and television.
It is time that public officers avoided getting heated up under the collar when queried. They should be reminded that Malawians introduced multiparty democracy so that they can be free to suggest on how best to be governed. This is what democracy or government for the people is all about. Therefore government should not be wasting time and resources trying to shut up people. This can easily backfire.