By Austin Kajawa
Democracy as the name implies, depends on the active participation of the people in shaping the political process. For this to be achieved, an initiative-taking disposition must be nurtured and developed at the popular level. PAC, therefore, takes a critical role to play.
One of the clearest indications of the changes in the churches’ politics is the advisory role which they have assumed since the changes in 1994. The churches have seen making it a point to serve as ‘watchdogs,’ both cautioning principal political actors and contributing to the national political discourse.
The primary vehicle assigned to this task has been the Public Affairs Committee (PAC), which was reinvigorated by the churches in the months following the UDFs ascension to political power.
Among PAC’s multi-folded functions is to provide churches with a common voice to address matters of national interest. Thus, meetings sponsored by the PAC have been an especially important forum in this respect.
As early as November 1994, for instance, a PAC sponsored meeting, attended by three government officials, allowed church leaders to directly communicate their concerns about the deterioration of the economic and security situation in the country.
On economic issues, in 1995 PAC also raised a central issue under Bishop Ziyaye late, chairperson of the PAC. At a PAC meeting in Salima in March 1995, Ziyaye specifically commented by calling upon president Muluzi to very carefully review the economic conditions being imposed on Malawi by the IMF and World Bank ” to ensure that they are in the interests of the common man.” (The Nation, 28 March 1995)
On issues of security, in similar fashion, a PAC gathering in Mzuzu, April 1995, raised the issue of the worsening security situation in the country. (The Monitor, 30 April 1995)
On issues of foreign Policies and Donor Aid, PAC throwed its open letter in August 1995 to the President, Cabinet and Civil Servants Trade Union. While addressing a number of issues, the letter was particularly pointed in its critique of government spending priorities in the wake of donor recommendations.
“The resistance to World Bank recommendation that the size of the cabinet be reduced leaves us with the perception that by choosing to stand firm on this issue rather than on fertilizer subsidies for example, ministries are more important than the rest of the citizens.” (An open letter from the PAC Executive to the state President, members of Cabinet, and leaders of the Civil Servants Trade Union, 24 August 1995)
Again, on issues of governance, in 1996, PAC focused its attention on the behavior of the political parties which, in their view, was not only keeping critical issues off the national debate, but also contributing to an atmosphere of ungovernability in the country.
A February 1996 statement also made a sweeping condemnation of “unprincipled and irresponsible”. behavior characterizing the political leadership (government and opposition).
Citing as shameless party infighting, a cooperative stance by the opposition, and mercantile motives underlying party defections, PAC declaring that: “Instead of seeing our leaders focus their energy to watch them battle for personal gain.” (A call for Political maturity from the PAC Executive Committee, 6 February 1996)
Here today, also unwavering PAC is reminding us that the battle of fighting injustices, un-governance and impunity by the political leaders is never ending.
PAC in its speech to the president at Sanjika Palace, has reminded him of the negative trending issues the country is facing by his administration. Precisely, PAC has nailed not least but issues of rising corruption, cronyism where by the president himself parted his son-in-law with two government positions and his daughter into a foreign mission position.
Chakwera has also been criticized by PAC on practicing nepotism, favoring his ministers who have been complicated and encroached in the Zuneth Satter, an Indian who participates in corruption in Malawi and UK with Malawian government officials.
PAC has also opened fire on the office of the OPC by its inactive to serve the needs and welfare of Malawians. Not only that but the office of the Foreign Affairs has also come under fire that there are a lot of wrangles to be addressed and some ministerial positions, for instance, ministry of Civic Education and national Unity and others are viewed sleeping on the job and not valuing Malawians.
Chakwera has also been criticized on sitting on the Civil Service Reform Report and failing to make cabinet reshuffle.
Meanwhile, there is a huge rise of poverty levels and the gap between the rich and the poor has just doubled widening while there is a witness in rising of commodities and utilities being raised on poor Malawians.
PAC is now seen as the only hope for the hopeless Malawians who still await the promise of Canaan!
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are those of the author not necessarily of The Maravi Post or Editor.