Public Affairs Committee (Pac), a quasi-religious grouping, has advised President Lazarus Chakwera not to take the path of executive arrogance, saying such tendency has affected the country’s development.
The sentiments were made during the first meeting that Chakwera had with Pac since he ascended to presidency following the fresh presidential elections.
In a statement read to Chakwera by Pac’s Chairperson Monsignor Patrick Thawale, the committee cautioned the president saying, with the past regimes, executive arrogance became a weapon against those who express divergent views.
“They feel Malawi is their property and therefore no constructive criticism should be expressed. This attitude ought to be checked because it is one of the biggest problems Malawi has witnessed.
“Pac wishes to caution Tonse Alliance that generations have changed and Malawians are not the same as they were 10 years ago. They have just given you a chance. As an alliance, you must stick to the principles and values you agreed to jointly develop this country,” reads the statement.
Pac also warned Chakwera to refrain from nepotism, tribalism and regionalism saying the president should appoint capable people regardless of districts or regions of origin.
“It has been a trend for governments to award positions to people from areas where they amassed more votes. Pac knows that you are aware about these issues. We are just emphasising [the advice] so that they are at the back of your mind,” reads the statement.
Pac said another challenge that has led to the downfall of presidents is believing in ‘backyard cabinets’ which make decisions behind the formal Cabinet.
“While it inevitable that each leadership may have people he/she trusts more, too much reliance on ‘backyard cabinets’ may guide you into a wrong direction because of the interest they may have,” Thawale said.
In matters of national interest, Pac queried the size and composition of President Chakwera’s maiden Cabinet, talked about Covid-19 response, the fight against corruption, public sector reforms, legislative reforms, and religious freedom.
Pac reminded Chakwera of his observation during an interface they had with him in 2014 where he [Chakwera] said once in government, MCP would have a lean Cabinet of between 14 and 20 ministers.
“Your Excellency, the speech you delivered during inauguration ceremony was magnificent. Pac rates you highly on those remarks which were unifying and gave a sense of our direction the country ought to take. The public at large positively welcomed your speech within and beyond.
“However, your approach to appointment of Cabinet members may have left a dent in your administration. We are aware that you attempted to clarify the matter by stating that cabinet members will be assessed and were appointed on merit, and in 5-months period the cabinet could be changed. Malawi will wait for your action since you have promised them. While we appreciate that there are several parties operating under Tonse Alliance, Pac suggests that you revisit the size of the cabinet,” Thawale said.
Among others, Pac commended the government for its efforts in fighting against coronavirus (Covid-19), the zeal to fight corruption and bring to book culprits who misused public funds and the initiatives taken to implement the public sector reforms.
“As Pac, we are contributing to the fight against the pandemic [Covid-19] through both electronic and print media. We therefore kindly request you as we did with the immediate former head of state to be recorded with your Vice President to read Pac Covid-19 messages which would ran as adverts on the TV Stations,” Thawale said.
State House Director of Communication and Executive Assistant to the President Sean Kampondeni said Chakwera commended Pac for its continued commitment towards the welfare of the country.
“The president thanked Pac for its diligence in fulfilling its mandate in the welfare of the country. He reiterated his commitment to listen to all stakeholders and continue discussing with Pac on the matters raised,” he said.
In recent weeks, President Chakwera has been meeting various stakeholders on matters of national importance.