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Public Affairs Committee differs with Kondwani Nankhumwa on demonstrations

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Gilford Matonga

Quasi-religious group Public Affairs Committee (Pac) has said holding nationwide demonstrations against President Lazarus Chakwera’s administration is not a remedy to socio-economic challenges besetting the country.

The development comes barely five days after Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa warned that he may lead nationwide demonstrations against the President if the current administration does not address challenges affecting Malawians.

Addressing journalists in Blantyre, Nankhumwa said problems of forex and fuel shortage are crippling an economy which, he said, “is already in ICU [Intensive Care Unit]”.

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“The rainy season is almost upon us but the silence from the government on AIP [Affordable Inputs Programme] has been deafening. Nobody knows whether AIP will actually happen this year or not. The price of fertiliser on the parallel market is almost K70, 000 per 50kg bag and farmers do not have a clue about where they can access cheap farm inputs. On August 7 2022, President Lazarus Chakwera had an interview at BICC [Bingu International Convention Centre] where he promised Malawians that six million litres of fuel will he hauled into the country and that he expects the problem of shortage of fuel to be addressed. Today, the fuel scarcity situation has even worsened.

“I wish to conclude by asking President Lazarus Chakwera to comprehensively attend to the issues raised herein within the next 14 days. If he does not do that, I wish to warn the President and his administration that I will lead national demonstrations and I am prepared to mobilise the faith community, traditional leaders, civil society organisations and the general citizenry to participate in such protests,” he said.

However, Pac spokesperson Bishop Gilford Matonga said contact and dialogue are the only way out of Malawi’s current predicament.

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“We cannot say we support or do not support the demonstrations. Our concern is if the Leader of Opposition leads the demonstrations, will the problems be addressed because we have marched?

“That is why, at the moment, Pac feels engagement and dialogue are the best way to go. Malawians must come together and address issues that we think are affecting us,” Matonga said.

He further said if Malawians from different fields, politicians and government can come together, they can find proper solutions to address the problems.

However, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) Northern Region Coordinator Walita Moir Mkandawire disagreed with Pac, saying demonstrations sometimes awaken the government when it is going astray.

However, Mkandawire said HRDC North would not support Nankhumwa if the aim is to gain political mileage.

Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa said, at the rate public service delivery is deteriorating in the country, demonstrations are the way to go.

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