The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) says it will change its approach in 2019 from “soft advocacy” and adopt activism to yield results.
PAC executive director Robert Phiri, in an emailed response yesterday on the prospects of the new year on the governance front, said time had come for the quasi-religious organisation to flex its muscles in activism as opposed to the diplomacy that it has been known for.
He said: “PAC will not just examine issues and resolutions but advocate qualitative leadership that can bring real change in the years to come. While the PAC board has not adopted crucial issues, in principle it will also embark on activism because our soft advocacy seems not to yield results.”
According to Phiri, PAC has learnt some lessons on crucial issues that can turn around this country.
“Therefore, the main goal is not just to sell issues or resolutions but advocate for implementation through activism. Any leadership that wins should be ready for PAC advocacy on implementation of promises,” he said.
PAC’s decision follows a year when it struggled to tame the government after being duped on the Electoral Reforms Bills which the State tabled in Parliament only to have them shot down by the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)- dominated august House.
Among other things, the Electoral Reforms Bills had a proposal on 50+1 system of winning presidential elections as opposed to the First-Past-the- Post system.
Political science lecturer based at the Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi (Unima), Ernest Thindwa described activism as a more action-based approach which focuses on mobilisation of voices for or against an issue.
He said PAC might have noted that it was losing the plot by not being vocal and failure to be decisive on issues hence its decision to go a step further to press for results.
But Minister of Information and Communications Technology Henry Mussa in a telephone interview yesterday said government has always showed willingness to engage with the civil society.
“As for PAC, they have not been too understanding at times. We struggled with them during the discussions on the Bills in Parliament. But for the new year , we want to understand each other because that is the only best way for this country.”
Meanwhile, one of the country ’s renowned human rights defenders Billy Mayaya has welcomed PAC’s stand, saying the body is being relevant to its mandate.
“We fully endorse PAC’s position. The trashing of the proposed electoral reforms by the government was a sign of a lack of commitment to improving the nature and scope of the electoral framework in Malawi,” he said.
President Mutharika has widely condemned some civil society organisations for using what he termed as a ‘confrontational’ approach.