So the much-awaited 5+1 All Inclusive Stakeholders Conference finally took off in Blantyre, amid discontentment from both Public Affairs Committee (Pac) itself and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
DPP accuses Pac of losing credibility and direction while Pac charges that arrogance and denial of ‘a country in crisis’ are derailing progress Malawi ought to have made.
Clearly, if the DPP had its way, the ongoing conference would have been postponed, if not cancelled altogether. And if Pac had its way, the current government would have long been thrown out and buried.
But as the adage goes, when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. These fights are the last thing Malawi needs at this point, as these divisions only succeed in hurting innocent and powerless lives. It is the men, women and children in poor settlements of our country that continue to suffer due to issues of bad governance, poor leadership and lack of vision.
So both Pac and the governing party should critically reflect on their respective mandates and candidly ask themselves whether the ordinary Malawian is benefiting from their existence.
Having said that, a growing disgruntlement seems to stem not only from Pac but other equally relevant institutions in Malawi and beyond. Just listening to several contributors at the conference, it is perturbing to notice such a growing outcry from the majority of delegates, themselves representing key bodies, about the manner in which affairs in the country are run.
While Pac must also be careful not to advance certain questionable agenda and put its house in order, the issues they raise are valid, authentic and factual. Corruption in both public and private sectors is on the increase, selective justice is apparent, education and health systems are in disarray, among many frustrations. Everything is there for everyone to see and, yet, all our government has successfully done is put up a defence. This, indeed, makes us question whether at all this ship has a captain or it is on auto.
That is why we totally support the notion that the starting point of fixing something that has gone wrong is accepting that something has gone wrong. Sadly, the big problem we have is that this government is refusing to accept that something is wrong and needs panel-beating.
We do hope that, for once, this meeting will devise real, practical workable strategies of ensuring the resolutions made are implemented and that real change comes forth, for the sake of the ordinary folk. Pac must not just maintain the same approach of pointing out weaknesses; it must provide workable solutions.
Otherwise, we, as citizenry, are also tired of riding on false hope every time such meetings are held without any tangible results on the ground.
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