All systems go for Political Science Association Conference at Annies Lodge in Malawi’s academic city of Zomba tomorrow where the ghost of academic freedom battle will be hovering when university of Malawi eminent scholars meet to discuss Malawi elections, human rights and constitutionalism.
The Political Science Association, the organizers of the conference, has assembled a team of eminent speakers to make presentations and among the presenters will be Professor Blessings Chisinga, him who triggered a protracted academic freedom battle at Chancellor College during the twilight of late President Bingu Wa Mutharika tenure in 2011.
He will spark the debate with a presentation titled ‘freedom of assembly, political obligation and safeguards against erosion/reversal of human rights in Malawi.” Then a team of sophisticated minds comprising of Dr Bonafance Dulani, Professor Happy Kayuni and Mr Joseph Chunga will jointly present a paper titled ‘Public opinion polls and their relevance in Malawian politics.”
From a media perspective will be a media trainer at Chancellor College, Jimmy Kainja, who will present on “the role of social media, citizen journalism on 2019 electoral processes in Malawi”.
Thereafter, Dr Henry Chingaipe will tackle the federation question in his presentation titled “underlying issues in the call for federalism in Malawi.”
Then the legendary Professor of Law, Edge Kanyongolo, will cap it all with his presentation titled ‘revisiting Malawi’s electoral laws/processes and electoral justice.”
As if this is not enough, the conference has also assembled a team of discussants which will be sparking the debate after each presentation. They are Dr Mustapha Hussein, governance expert Makhumbo Munthali, Professor Chijere Chirwa, lawmaker Yeremiah Chihana and representatives from MISA.
In an interview with General Secretary Political Science Association, Mr Ernest Thindwa—himself a renown political analyst in the country— said the conference will be day long, starting at 8:00 and will wind up at 5:00pm.
Thindwa said the conference is open to members of the public. According to him, the Political Science Association noted that the democratic record in Malawi has been tortuous since the re-introduction of multiparty elections in 1994. Since 1994 elections, they say there seems to be no satisfaction with our democracy.
The association is buttressing the above point by quoting afrobarometer survey results of 2017 which revealed that 56% of Malawians say that the country is ‘not a democracy’ or ‘a democracy with major problems’.
The Political Science association then poses the following questions:
“What are Malawi’s democracy consolidation prospects in the near future amidst heavily contested 2019 elections coupled with demonstrations and legal tussles? What are the key issues that need to be addressed if we have to successfully steer ourselves out of this political situation?”
The association says these are some of the questions that this conference aptly entitled ‘Elections, Human Rights and Constitutionalism “will try to address.”
This correspondent will bring you the theatrics and blow-by-blow coverage of the conference.