The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) has said President Joyce Banda is defying Malawians by declaring she will continue criss-crossing the country distributing relief food to Malawians affected by hunger.

Barely hours after PAC met her on Wednesday at Sanjika Palace in Malawi’s commercial city, Blantyre, and advised her to slow down on running errands such as distributing relief maize as it is costly and being politicised, President Banda defiantly said no one was going to stop her from undertaking the exercise.

The President repeated the statement in Mulanje, Mwanza and Kasungu that she would carry on with her mission to personally distribute food to Malawians affected with hunger, a direct slap in the face of PAC—a civil society, inter-faith organisation made up of the main Protestant, Catholic and Muslim faith groups in Malawi which operates in areas of governance and human rights.

PAC publicity secretary the Reverend Maurice Munthali said the President is not saying no to PAC, but to Malawians the inter-faith grouping represents.

Said Munthali in an interview with The Nation on Sunday: “It’s not our opinion. What we advised the President is the voice of Malawians out there. It was advice from Malawians and she is defying them, not PAC. Ours was free advice, and if she chooses to remain adamant, our only concern is that she is walking in the footsteps of the previous regime.

“The argument is simple, if she goes around distributing food personally, the cost is high because issues of security have to be considered, fuel, allowances to officials, for example, police officers, just to mention a few. Government coffers are being depleted at a time our economy is bad.”

Munthali said PAC is only trying to help her govern properly, but said it is unfortunate if the President thinks it is personal.

Commenting on the President’s remarks, Malawi Watch executive director Billy Banda said he was shocked that leaders are not able to learn from others, always starting well, but becoming arrogant and self-praising as power gets into their heads.

Said Banda: “I am shocked that our President is quickly becoming more combative to some honest and constructive observations from PAC. A good leader listens, you mean she cannot see it that personally distributing maize is rather expensive and the same Malawians she is claiming to serve are the ones paying for the high cost?”

The PAC delegation cautioned her that there is a perception that the maize distribution is being politicised.

The delegation, led by Blantyre Catholic Archdiocese Auxiliary Bishop Montfort Stima, met the President to present to her resolutions from two PAC All-Inclusive Stakeholders conferences held in March and October this year.

Stima, reading a prepared statement, told the President that PAC appreciates the role she is playing to distribute food to the needy, but said now that she is a President, people have different perceptions on the way she is distributing the food.

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