Influential quasi-religious grouping, the Public Affairs Committee (Pac), is backing the Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) on its plans to hold a second round of mass demonstrations in the country against President Joyce Banda’s economic policies.

In an interview on Wednesday, Pac’s Executive Director Robert Phiri and Publicity Secretary Reverend Maurice Munthali described as genuine the concerns that the consumer rights protection group is raising as reasons for demonstrating.

Phiri and Munthali further said Cama and any other organisation, groups or individuals in the country have the right and freedom under the Republican constitution to demonstrate as a means of communicating to the government.

“It is our assumption as Pac that Cama has exhausted all the necessary avenues of engagement with the government to address issues being raised. It is unfortunate if their engagement failed to yield any positive results which we believe is necessitating another round of demonstration,” said Munthali.

He, however, explained that Pac is at the moment not involved in the preparations for the protests. According to Munthali, Pac’s involvement in the demonstrations will depend on whether Cama will approach the organisation to join their cause as well as a decision by its board.

Cama is calling for the second round of demonstrations to force the government to address issues raised in its petition of January 17.

Among other issues, Cama demanded government to stop the floatation of the kwacha, reduce foreign and local travel by the executive arm of the government and trim the cabinet.

It also asked President Joyce Banda to declare her assets and trim her motorcade. Cama Executive Director John Kapito said the holding of the demonstration is one of the many activities the grouping has lined up to force the government to address issues raised in the petition.

“Our plea to consumers is to make sure that they participate when called upon for specific activities. Public participation is key in achieving some of the many issues that we had in the petition as we noted with the civil servants strike.

“It took all of them to speak with one voice and demand what was due to them and our appeal to consumers is to stop complaining silently and join us when called upon to do so. Our issues can only be meaningful if the challenges are shared,” Kapito told the media this week.

Meanwhile Pac held its post conference strategy meeting in Blantyre yesterday. The meeting which is a follow-up to the two conferences Pac held in March and October last year among other things was aimed at seeking views on how Pac should design its advocacy strategy ahead of the tripartite elections due next year.

In his opening address, Bishop James Tengatenga urged participants to come up with the best strategy that will translate Pac’s advocacy intervention into issue-based civic education in line with one of the recommendations from the last conference to pursue transformative leadership.

Other issues discussed include section 65 and 64 of the constitution which talks about limiting movement of members of parliament in the national assembly.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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