The People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) has drawn up a list of 30 issues it argues are pertinent and require a national conference to alleviate the suffering of Malawians.
In a letter to stakeholders, PPM argues that it is common knowledge that Malawians are going through the most difficult time economically and socially in the history of our country.
The issues, it says, were submitted to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) in December 2012 for the attention of government.
But presidential press secretary Steve Nhlane on Thursday could not comment on the said letter and issues, asking for more time.
In the letter, PPM secretary general Wellington Chatepa says whereas PPM is aware that government is trying to do everything possible to ease the suffering Malawians are going through, the party has not seen much impact other than the continued suffering of the people.
Writes Chatepa: “For this reason, PPM is of the view that, if an open, transparent and well organised national debate was to be held, solutions to these challenges could be found.
“PPM, therefore, appealed to government to call for an all inclusive stakeholders national conference to debate and find common solutions to these challenges in the first quarter of this year (2013).
“All resolutions which will come out of the national conference will be passed on to government for inclusion in the 2013/14 national budget debate by Parliament. PPM believes that this process will move the country forward.”
But while welcoming the call for the national conference, political analyst Dr. Augustine Magolowondo said there is need for a clear agenda which is a useful condition for such conferences.
Questioned Magolowondo: “What is it that can be done which has not been done? What is it that is going to be said that has not been said before?”
He observed that the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and government recently had national conferences which tackled many issues.
Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito, who is mobilising consumers for mass demonstrations on January 17, said the call for the national conference is another strategy to make government listen to the issues.
But Kapito said resolutions of the recent national conference called by PAC were trashed by government and the organisers ended up being ridiculed in public.
Said Kapito: “I don’t know whether the national conference can bring issues of transparency, accountability, good governance and government expenditure. I don’t know whether the conference will address these issues.”
In the letter, PPM notes that while mass demonstrations are one of the people’s rights, the party does not believe that demonstrations will find a real solution to current problems; hence, the proposal for a national conference.
“However, in the absence of serious engagement of all stakeholders in the search for solutions to the people’s concerns, citizens will have no alternative but go on the streets to make their concerns and demands heard.
“PPM sincerely hopes that the holding of a national conference may be a good and constructive alternative to the mass demonstrations. However, in the absence of government giving an opportunity to all stakeholders to debate the challenges the citizens are facing, PPM will have no option but support the call for mass demonstrations for the peoples’ voice to be heard,” says Chatepa.