More faith groups have rallied their flock to participate in Public Affairs Committee (PAC) nationwide demonstrations on December 13 to push for the enactment of the Electoral Reforms Bills, including the 50+1 provision for electing the President.
In a statement released on Sunday, the Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) comprising six Christian organisations affiliated to PAC, said it was concerned with the non-submission of such critical Bills in Parliament despite earlier assurances by government through Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu.
EAM said PAC’s decision to hold the protests follows failed dialogue between the quasi-religious grouping and Government Technical Team (GTT) on national matters. The group has since called for resumption of dialogue between PAC and GTT.
Reads the statement in part: “We strongly recommend that the best way to resolve these differences is through open, honest and sincere engagement between the two sides.”
In an interview yesterday, EAM general secretary Reverend Francis Mkandawire called for responsibility on the part of government, accusing it of not showing interest on discussions on matters of national interest.
He said: “If people are holding on to their interests above national interests, this is what follows. PAC has done its part to initiate dialogue. The onus is on government now to be responsible enough and take the initiative.”
Mkandawire emphasised that as part of PAC, his association is in full support of the protests, including any decision made by the quasi-religious body, adding that it considers dialogue as the way to go.
Quadria Muslim Association of Malawi publicity secretary Sheikh Jafaar Kawinga said the issue is not about an individual religious institution, but PAC as an umbrella body.
He said: “Let me emphasise this, as members of PAC we sit down, discuss and make collective decisions when it comes to matters of national importance.”
The Church of Central African Presbyterian (CCAP) Nkhoma Synod leadership has also asked its faithful to join the protest in solidarity with PAC.
“To this end, the synod, is advising all church ministers and heads of synod institutions to facilitate the participation of their members and institutions by passing on the accessed communication from the synod secretariat,” reads the statement signed by Nkhoma Synod deputy general secretary the Reverend Brian Kamwendo.
The Malawi Council of Churches (MCC), an ecumenical mother body comprising 25 member churches and 20 para-church organisations nationwide, has also issued a statement in support of the protests calling on all church members and its congregations to join the protests.
On Sunday, during the 9.30am Mass at St Patrick’s Parish in Area 18 in Lilongwe, Vice-President Saulos Chilima read out a letter from Catholic bishops asking their flock to take part in the nationwide demonstrations.
Chancellor College political analyst Ernest Thindwa has also backed the decision, indicating that PAC as an organisation that represents people of all walks of life, it has every right to hold demonstrations as stipulated in the Constitution.
However, he said the possibility of dissenting views cannot be ruled out as PAC comprises so many stakeholders and having opposing views is normal.
PAC executive director Robert Phiri has since assured the nation of a peaceful march.