Some charged delegates to the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) 5+1 All Inclusive Stakeholders meeting two weeks ago, may have touched a raw nerve when they suggested regime change as a solution for the teething problems dogging the country. This—regime change—in my understanding, included and was not limited to the removal of President Peter Mutharika from Plot Number One. How they envisaged this could be done, I don’t have the slightest clue.
Suffice to say, the recommendation flared up a lot of tempers among the delegates, and as expected, was shot down during plenary.
It has been two weeks since the conference ended. The recommendations were then put in a furnace where they were further recast into resolutions. The furnace—the PAC board—has since adopted all the recommendations into resolutions. But I diverted.
On Monday this week—just a week after the conference—President Peter Mutharika who is Chancellor of the University of Malawi (Unima) dissolved the Unima Council for failing to resolve the labour issue involving the university’s academic staff. This is according to a statement from State House on Monday evening. It said the President had with immediate effect (my emphasis) dissolved the Unima Council accusing it and Unima management of failing to resolve the labour issue. The statement further said the President would soon appoint new members of the council.
The labour dispute has led to the closure of Chancellor College, a constituent college of the Unima for about six months now. Chanco academic staff have been on strike to force their employer resolve salary disparities among staff in similar grades in Unima’s four constituent colleges.
I am afraid by dissolving the Unima Council, the Chancellor just chopped off the head.
Then surprise, surprise! Perhaps as if to prove Tembenu right, on Tuesday evening this week, Minister of Education, Science and Technology Emmanuel Fabiano in a brief statement announced that the labour dispute between Unima and academic staff had been amicably resolved at Kuchawe Inn. Guess who attended the meeting? Unima Council members. Now which council was this? The same body the President had dissolved the previous day? Or did he quietly and swiftly appoint new embers overnight? Airlifted them from all corners of the country to chill at the hill top Kuchawe Inn for the meeting mediated by the Ministry of Education and Justice?
Whatever that means—the speed and urgency—to reopen Chanco happened after the PAC conference asked for the immediate reopening of the college after a long period of indecision on the matter! Now, where are all those vocal PAC critics? I mean men of the collar who were disparaging PAC’s 5+1 All Stakeholders Conference for its militant approach to issues? How government has acted on Chanco has demonstrated that PAC still has traction. PAC has just shown that when it sneezes everyone in government catches flu.
And as I am writing this, news is filtering through that the PAC Board has adopted all the 5+1 Conference recommendations. Including that the PAC board fully supports demonstrations by civil society organisations and interest groups should government not act on the recommendations. Those men of the collar who were spewing visceral on PAC should now swallow humble pie. This government—well-known for sleeping on its job—only acts when shaken up. n