The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) on Wednesday released the communiquÃ© from the two-day stakeholders all-inclusive conference in which the group has endorsed the delegatesâ€™ call for President Bingu wa Mutharika to resign.
The five-paged communiquÃ©, signed by conference chairperson Bishop James Tengatenga of the Anglican Churchâ€™s South Malawi Diocese, has captured all the recommendations, including the need for a referendum for Malawians to decide whether Mutharika should continue ruling.
â€œPrompted by signs in our society that point to a crisis in political, economic and constitutional governance, inspired by PACâ€™s prophetic mandate, realising that God does not change the conditions of people unless the people themselves show commitment to change them, we did a serious introspection and critical analysis based on hard questions that need to be addressed if we have to reclaim our future as a nation,â€ reads part of the communiquÃ©â€™s preamble.
It says the delegates at the conference, held under the theme â€˜Time to reclaim our destiny: Seeking redress to political and economic challengesâ€™, observed that the countryâ€™s problems need urgent attention and must be dealt with by Malawians themselves.
Reads the communiquÃ©: â€œThe need to repeal the bad laws and to cooperate with IMF [International Monetary Fund] and other development partners is of urgency with the prevailing crisis. Otherwise, with the current crisis, Malawians may exercise their right to withdraw the trust bestowed upon the current regime in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of Republic of Malawi (S.12)(111). To this end, redress to the latter would assist Malawi to reclaim its destiny.â€
Malawi has deteriorated
PAC notes that Malawi has deteriorated from a developmental State between 2004 and 2009 to the one bordering towards a weak State as witnessed by the passing of unpopular bills in Parliament, pursuing policies without adequate consultation and threatening of critics.
â€œDelegates noted that the economic situation is unsatisfactory. This has led to rising cost of living and the shrinking of businesses, resulting in loss of jobs which is bringing misery to many families,â€ it says.
The communiquÃ©, among others, cites bad laws such as Section 46 of the Penal Code which empowers the Minister of Information to ban publications, including local ones, deemed not in the public interest; amendment to Section 35 of the Police Act, Injunctions Law and Local Government Act (S147 (5).
â€˜K1,000 note shouldnâ€™t carry individualâ€™s portraitâ€™
On the new K1 000 note which the Reserve Bank of Malawi is expected to introduce on the market, the communiquÃ© recommends that no individualâ€™s portrait, including Mutharikaâ€™s, should appear on it.
Meanwhile, as a way forward, PACâ€™s emergency meeting held on Wednesday in Lilongwe resolved to implement key recommendations of the conference by establishing a special committee on political, economic and constitutional reforms to include some delegates to the conference.
PACâ€™s executive committee also resolved to establish a committee on constructive engagement with the President to also include some delegates and organise a follow-up conference as a way of enhancing broad-based dialogue among stakeholders.
PAC executive director Robert Phiri said in an interview on Wednesday that the contents of the communiquÃ© would be shared with the President at an appropriate time when the religious group secures an audience.
â€˜We havenâ€™t discussed it in governmentâ€™
Asked to comment on the recommendations that PAC has officially released, Presidential spokesperson Dr Hetherwick Ntaba said last evening: â€œWe have not seen the document, which means as government we have not discussed it. Therefore, I cannot discuss it until it is delivered to us and we deliberate on it. All I can promise you is that our response will be detailed.â€
Last week, Information and Civic Education Minister Patricia Kaliati, reacting to preliminary calls for the President to resign, said government was not panicking. She alleged the conference was hijacked and influenced by people serving self-interests.