Thursday, 22 March 2012

Final Communique On PAC Meeting

Recently The  Public Affairs Committee held a two day meeting  to find solutions to the country's economic and social challenges
At the end of the meeting they   called upon president Bingu Wa Mutharika to resign or call a referendum.

This is the final Communique

BLANTYRE, 14-15 MARCH, 2012
Issued : 21 March, 2012
This communiqué is not a strategy paper but a document that provides the
general spirit of the observations and recommendations emanating from the
conference. Specifics will be defined in line with appropriate consultations with
sectors present at the conference.
1. The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) held a two-day All-Inclusive Stakeholders
Conference from 14-15, March, 2012 at Limbe Cathedral, Blantyre, Malawi.
Delegates to the conference included media fraternity, political parties, academia,
legal fraternity , Malawi Congress of Trade Union, representatives of civil society
organizations , faith leaders and other interested stakeholders .
2. PAC, a predominantly faith-based organization whose aims include : to encourage
religious bodies to fulfil their prophetic and religious roles, and respond to the socioeconomic
and political affairs of the Republic of Malawi; to enter into and maintain
a dialogue with any person, political body or any other institution including the
Head of State in the Republic of Malawi regarding any issues of concern to the
nation; and to promote peace and tranquillity in the Republic of Malawi among
others , hosted the conference which focussed on three topics: the current
political situation in Malawi, the economic situation in Malawi and Constitutional
gaps and opportunities.
3. Prompted by signs in our society that point to a crisis in political, economic and
constitutional governance, inspired by PAC’s prophetic mandate, realising that
God does not change the conditions of people unless the people themselves show
commitment to change them, we did a serious introspection and critical analysis based
on hard questions that need to be addressed if we have to reclaim our future as a nation.
Our observations
Current Political Situation
4. Delegates observed that the challenges facing the country need urgent attention and
must be dealt with by Malawians themselves through constructive engagement
among various stakeholders.
5. It was noted that Malawi as a nation has drastically deteriorated from a developmental
state (2004 -2009), and is now bordering towards a weak state (2010 to 2012)
as witnessed in the passing of unpopular bills in parliament; pursuing policies
without adequate consultation, and threats to dissenting views.
6. While Malawi successfully ushered in a democratic constitution , lack of internalised
democratic culture in the governance structures of our society especially in political
parties remains a challenge in the field of good governance. It was further
observed that there is a reasonable number of political parties without defined
and distinctive political ideologies to guide the political agenda in Malawi.
Economic Situation
7. Delegates noted that the economic situation is unsatisfactory. This has led to
rising cost of living and the shrinking of businesses resulting into loss of jobs
which is bringing misery to many families.
8. Though government has put in place initiatives in attracting investment, policies
to ensure the expansion of businesses in different sectors and attracting foreign
investment remain inadequate and ineffective .The need for a self-reliant economy
is of paramount importance. However, delegates observed that the zero deficit
budget has tax burdens for Malawians and could further stifle the economic
activities given that Malawi remains weak in most of the sectors that drive the
economy. In view of this , the matter of devaluation of the Kwacha cannot be
ignored but needs proper planning.
9. Delegates noted the loss of donor support as a major cause of concern
following the poor relations between our government and international
10. Noting the importance of trade unions, members observed the need to guarantee
basic requirements in form of a decent wage, better jobs, protected environment, a
conducive social security and health protection and ensure that political interests
do not overshadow the need for a free and conducive environment for workers . It
was further noted that Unions have been agents of change world over and their
meaningful engagements have resulted in positive gains for nations.
11. In spite of Malawi adopting a democratic constitution, there is a considerable
evidence that there is limited knowledge and internalisation of the Constitution
- a situation that has led to having a constitution without constitutionalism.
12. The Constitution has both gaps and opportunities in our young democracy. However,
it must be appreciated that governance challenges cannot be solved by the
constitution alone.
13. Although the Constitution clearly states that the mandate to govern derives from
the people of Malawi we note that it is abused by those entrusted with it. We also
note that the balance of power is heavily skewed towards the Executive branch of
government at the expense of the other two .
14. Access to justice is a very important human right and PAC should ask the government
to settle its differences with the judiciary as soon as possible so that the courts can
start functioning.
15. PAC should facilitate political parties (both ruling and opposition) to hold own
conferences of parties to address their differences and enhance party ideologies
and inter-party democracy.
16. It is the constitutional duty of the government of the day to promote the economic
welfare of all Malawians. PAC should ask Government to settle its differences with
UK, the IMF, the World Bank and other donors immediately so that the economic
deterioration is arrested immediately. It must be emphasised that Malawi, though a
sovereign state, can not operate in isolation in this global world.
Delegates noted that the matter of the devaluation of the Kwacha should not be
dismissed off hand but an honest discussion should be fostered culminating in the
right action by the highest authority.
17. It is the responsibility of the President and indeed all our political leaders, to speak
and behave in an exemplary manner so that Malawians can relate to each other
in a harmonious manner. PAC should ask President Mutharika and all the other
political leaders to desist from using provocative statements meant to demean and
insult their opponents or those who hold different views from them.
18. Delegates felt that bad laws ( S46 of the Penal Code, amendment to S35 of the
Police Act, Injunctions law, Local Government Act(S147(5), among others) should
be repealed because they are very unpopular and a source of division in our
country. There is high perception that such laws were passed to serve interests
of the few.
19. Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) should provide balanced information
given that it operates on tax payers money. In the same vein, media should
be protected so that media freedom continue to be exercised in line with the
expected standard by the media fraternity.
20. Given the human rights challenges Malawi continues to suffer, members
demanded an inquest on the death of Robert Chasowa. The outcome of the
inquest would assist Malawi to avoid a repeat of such horrible events.
21. Electoral Commission should be strengthened and commissioners need to be
appointed as a matter of urgency in readiness of the 2014 tripartite elections.
The current situation will need a non-partisan electoral management body
to lessen tensions among various stakeholders taking part in the electoral
22. Clear road map after Constitutional Conference held in 2007 is imperative if
Malawi is to improve its constitutional architecture.
23. On the new currency notes to be introduced, members felt that no individual’s
face on the currency (not even of the incumbent president) should appear on
the note, especially in a multiparty setting like ours in Malawi.
24. Delegates further felt that a sensible balance between creation and distribution of
wealth should be maintained for the overall development of the country. In
order to achieve the latter, effective measures should be put in place to guarantee
accountability, transparency, personal integrity and financial probity in our society.
25. Independence of the legislative arm of the government should be secured by giving
financial independence. Parliament must be given the right to own and manage its
own budget.
26. At the conference there were calls that the current government should resign. Failing
which, a referendum must be called to give a chance to the nation to express its
mind on the matter.
The need to repeal the bad laws and to cooperate with IMF and other development
partners is of urgency with the prevailing crisis. Otherwise, with the current crisis
Malawians may exercise their right to withdraw the trust bestowed upon the current
regime in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of Republic of Malawi (S.12)
(111). To this end, redress to the latter would assist Malawi to reclaim its destiny.
All the views of the stakeholders from conference will be entertained through
appropriate special committees with special competencies. PAC has been called upon
to engage with the relevant authorities using constructive engagement to secure
results on hard issues.
We call upon all Malawians to demonstrate a spirit of patriotism towards our nation
as we face the socio-economic and political challenges by actively participating and
engaging with the concerned institutions in the exercise of their constitutional rights .
By the Grace of God We shall Succeed.
Rt Rev. James Tengatenga

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