The government is plotting to stop the March 14-15 meetings scheduled at Sunbird Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre which the Public Affairs Committee (Pac) has convened to chart the way forward for the country amid political and economic crises that have negatively affected Malawians.
Sources confided in The Daily Times on Thursday that top government officials are pressuring the hotel management to cancel the booking by Pac so that the meeting should not take place.
The plot to foil the meeting follows an order which President Bingu wa Mutharika gave last week at Goliati in Thyolo that his ruling DPP cadres should foil anti-government meetings and demonstrations.
Mutharika told DPP members at Goliati: “Let us, as DPP, find a solution to foil these plans. Their cause is aimed not for fuel or forex but to cause chaos in the name of peaceful demonstrations.”
Meanwhile, the government has reiterated that the meeting which Pac has called for with several political, religious as well as other stakeholders is a plan by Civil Society Organisations (CSO) to oust the government with funding from unnamed donors.
Presidential spokesperson Hetherwick Ntaba issued a press release on Thursday in which he alleges that the government has information that the main agenda of the meeting, themed ‘Time to reclaim our destiny: seeking redress to political and economic challenges’, is to call for a referendum failing which people will be called to a mass demonstration against the government.
“The President has said that some NGOs and opposition politicians are plotting regime change with the help of some donors.
“There are some of these plotters who are now discrediting the President, claiming in the media that Government is barking at nothing.
“We want to assure these critics that the Head of State does not say anything like that without having any concrete evidence for it. Apart from the State Intelligence Machinery, there are numerous other sources which bring information to the President,” says the statement issued by Ntaba.
The statement adds: “We have collaborated information and evidence that NGOs and opposition leaders are meeting to prepare for the March 14 meeting where they will demand a referendum or the President to resign by a specific deadline. Failing this, there will be country-wide coordinated demonstrations and chaos until they force a regime change.”
It further claims that opposition leaders are paying CSOs, urging lawyers and others to facilitate and join all manner of strikes and their external collaborators in South Africa, Zambia and elsewhere some of whom are ex-diplomats.
However, Pac Publicity Secretary Maurice Munthali said he was not aware of the government’s plan but said people should be allowed to exercise their rights in a democratic dispensation.
“I have no idea (if they are planning to stop the meeting). It will be unfortunate if they do that. I want to appeal to the government to let people express themselves. We have always assured the government that we have no sinister motives,” Munthali said.
On the agenda of the meeting and governments claims, Munthali said it is impossible to come out with a resolution of a meeting that is yet to be held.
“We want to seek views from a cross section to find a way forward. How can we start making conclusions, resolutions or what will transpire before we are even there?
“As of what will come out we have no idea and nobody should start suspecting or suggesting. All we are saying is that we will talk about the political and economic situation so as to find solutions,” he said.
He, however, said the meeting will follow what the delegates agree as long as it is within the Constitution of the country.
“What the stakeholders will agree is what we will do if it is allowed by the Constitution.
“Anything outside the Constitution will not be allowed.