CSOs, academia for Bingu resignation

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The civil society and academia attending the all-inclusive Public Affairs Committee conference in Blantyre have called for the resignation of President Bingu wa Mutharika within 60 days failing which he should call for a referendum to test Malawians’ confidence in his rule.

The recommendations came before the final conference resolution which the PAC board comprising religious leaders of various groupings will endorse.
The Public Affairs Committee (Pac) has hit hard at government, saying things have completely fallen apart due to the bad governance and economic malaise currently rocking the country.

Chairperson of the organising committee of the Pac meeting, Bishop James Tengatenga of the Anglican Church, said this on Wednesday at Limbe Cathedral in Blantyre when opening the two day long conference whose patronage was all inclusive.

“2010 saw a different political tide. Laws that were passed in Parliament and policies were made without adequate consultations. Modification of the Malawi flag, acute shortage of forex and fuel dominated our debate in Malawi.

“In 2011, we saw poor relations on the international scene compounded by the expulsion of the British High Commissioner [Cochraine Dyet]. Most commentators made it clear that Malawi had lost direction and indeed today we can observe that things have fallen apart,” Tengatenga said.

He added that it was the present crises in the country which compelled Pac to identify the theme ‘Time to reclaim our destiny: seeking redress to our political and economic challenges’.

Tengatenga further said this theme was arrived at because there is no room in the current political environment for “dictatorial tendencies” as those were rejected in 1992. The year, he said, saw the ushering in of a new Constitution which recognised democratic tendencies and values.

“Intimidation and unwarranted arrests were supposed to be consigned to the past. The ‘Big Bwana’ syndrome attitude was not supposed to be entertained again.

“We gather here today to take a resolve to maintain the original vision of consolidating democracy, and to rekindle the original motivation to reclaim the future we have always wished to see,” Tengatenga said.

He parried away speculations that the conference is aimed at staging a coup due to the word “reclaim” in its theme.

“Reclaim does not mean remove! The word should not imply any intention to stage a coup on the current regime,” said Tengatenga. “What we mean is that our vision for the future of this country need be redirected.”

He emphasised that the conference was not about some individuals taking advantage to start war as other quarters had been propagating, saying Pac believes in spiritual, intellectual and practical engagement rather than physical might.

Citing Section 12 (111) of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi, Tengatenga said Malawians have the right to assess the progress of any regime at any particular time since all leaders rule based on trust bestowed upon them by the society.

In his prayer opening the meeting, Sheik Imran Sherrif of Muslim Association of Malawi told the delegates that they should not expect God to change their living conditions unless the people themselves show commitment to have that change.

“In 2014, your behaviour will determine what kind of leadership to have. Don’t expect God to change things for you but yourself,” Sherrif said.

The constitution of Pac mandates it to respond to the socio-economic and political affairs, and promote the rule of law and human rights in the country, among others

However, the clergy did not meet to come up with consensus recommendations from the meeting.

Representative of the civil society Margaret Ali told the conference that if the call for resignation and referendum was not heeded, then mass action would be a last resort.

“We, the civil society, noting that all is not well in this country call for the president to resign within 60 days. He has demonstrated arrogance by failing to repair relations with our donors, brought about bad laws but also economic hardship on Malawians,” she said.

On the part of the academia, Chancellor College law associate professor Garton Kamchedzera said the government had failed guarantee accountability and trust.

“We the academia call for the president to resign, if not, then he should call for a referendum on whether this government has performed well,” Kamchedzera said.

The nine opposition parties called for the repeal of bad laws passed in the past years, an inquest into the death of student Robert Chasowa and urged the government to resolve differences with international donors, International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

The political parties also called for removal of subsidies and appointment of commissioners.

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