Malawi religious leaders say government has lost direction

By Emmanuel Muwamba – The Public Affairs Committee (PAC), a grouping of religious leaders in Malawi, has criticised the administration of President Bingu wa Mutharika saying the government has lost direction for ordering to deport a British envoy.

On Wednesday, PAC condemned the government intention to expel the British High Commissioner Fergus Cochrane-Dyet.

Government has refused to comment on the issue.

The Malawi Government on Monday gave the British High Commissioner 72 hours to leave Malawi after he called President Mutharika “autocratic, combative and intolerant of criticism”.

Cochrane-Dyet was summoned to a meeting with the Foreign Minister Etta Banda on Monday to leave after the country over the contents of a diplomatic cable sent to London which were leaked to the media.

In a statement released on Wednesday, PAC said the decision to expel the envoy vindicates the organisation’s position that the current leadership is not ready to yield to divergent views on issues affecting Malawi.

“Given that the government’s tone is uncompromising on political governance, PAC wishes to re-iterate its position that the current regime has lost its direction. Therefore, what the international community has been observing is reflective of the realities on the ground,” reads the statement signed by Robert Phiri, the executive director.

“We are deeply shocked that after all constructive criticisms levelled at government, authorities continue to display undemocratic actions towards various institutions in this country. We find these developments unfortunate and unacceptable as we strive to consolidate our democratic institutions,” said PAC in the statement.

PAC called for a united front of civil society organisations in the promotion and protection of human rights, pointing out that “the arrogance from Mutharika government remains a cause of concern.”

PAC also decried what is said “lack of strong alternative voices” from the fragile opposition political parties.

“We appeal to opposition political parties to organise themselves so that in 2014 Malawians should have better options.

“PAC is of the view that Malawians should not be bull-dozed to the tune of one particular individual as if change was brought by few individuals. Many Malawians suffered in the process of realising freedoms and rights during the transition. Now, it is surprising that authorities behave as if rights and freedoms are charitable gifts from their hands.”

It also reminded those in power that “the positions they occupy today were also assumed by other intelligent politicians a few years back – but none of the politician has ever owned such positions. It is the will of the people that dictates the agenda of every politician in every democratic dispensation.”

PAC says government’s actions of intimidating civil society and international community is counter-productive and based on false belief that it can manipulate Malawians.

“We believe that the present generation will not yield to threats,” said PAC.