Muckracking: Treason, Mr President, is serious!

“What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others” Confucius

Although he used an unpresidential adjective, I would like to agree with President Peter Mutharika that most – emphasise ‘most’ – of the treason cases we have had in this country are indeed, for want of a better word, ‘stupid’.

Take, for instance, Bingu’s treason case against Harry Thomson and others. It was the Big Kahuna’s considered opinion that Thomson and friends wanted to bludgeon him to death. Yes, the bad guys were armed to the teeth. And you know the weapon of choice in their mission? A hoe handle found in the boot of the car of one Jordan Kanyelele!

Bingu also dramatically netted his predecessor Bakili Muluzi, a former army general, a former police chief and a number of brigadiers on some treason stuff. The brigadiers turned into instant millionaires courtesy of the President’s fertile imagination.

Mutharika

Mutharika

Muluzi, too, had his fair share of treason infamy. He arrested dreamer Sudi Adaki Sulaimana on treason charges over some letter he circulated. Sudi is an ambitious young man with lots of tall dreams. In fact the dude dreams of ruling this country one bright day!

Sudi, for his troubles, raked in a few millions from his treasonous dreams.

So Peter was right; most treason cases we have witnessed in multiparty Malawi border on stupidity. Imagine, what paranoia can afflict a president to fear a hoe handle in a flail old man’s car boot against the automatic guns that protect him 24 hours a day?

But I have news for my dear president: your own treason case was – unfortunately – far from ‘stupid’ for it was real, very real, if the truth be told.

A veteran constitutional law professor with 40 years of teaching experience to boot as Peter is, should know by heart what constitutes treason.

But if the good old prof. needs reminding, Section 38 of the Penal Code (Cap. 7:01 of the Laws of Malawi) provides in (c) thus: Any person who prepares, endeavours or conspires to carry out by force any enterprise which would, if effected, usurp the executive power of the state shall be guilty of treason.

When his brother sadly dropped dead – quite literally – during those ‘three mad days in April’, Peter and senior gurus in the then ruling DPP found themselves in a dilemma. They could see power slowly ebbing out of them to a lady they had systematically ostracised to pave way for Peter’s ascension to power.

They knew the law was clear but they could not fathom ceding power to a lady they had conspired to boot out of the ruling party.

So Peter conveniently forgot he is a constitutional gearbox and started scouting for second-class opinions on what the Constitution says. Some dude, perhaps high on something not exactly legal, fooled Peter and the Gang that Joyce Banda ceased to be First Vice President the moment she formed her own party.

To that joker, Ama had virtually become the de facto ‘Second Vice President’ the moment she founded the People’s Party and, therefore, she was ineligible to lay claim to keys to Plot Number 1.

And our good ol’ constitutional law professor bought this baloney and joined in the machinations to usurp power.

Former Army Commander General Henry Odillo told the Justice Elton Singini inquiry into the death of Bingu that a meeting at the current president’s house comprising the likes of Peter himself, Bright Msaka and Goodall Gondwe told him to take over government.

This is the General’s own words: “I felt …uncomfortable because I think there is no provision at all in the Constitution which provides the military taking over power or getting involved in politics.”

So, you see, Peter was among the group of purveyors of unconstitutional transfer of power. This group wanted to take over government by all means. They were so nihilistic to the extent that if it was not possible for them to take over power then the army should.

 If this was not treason, good people, then school me what treason is.

Had it not been for General Odillo’s respect for the Constitution and professionalism, this group of crooks – for that is what they truly are – could have taken over power illegally. Joyce Banda could have been killed if she tried to assert her rights and the country could have been plunged into chaos and bloodshed.

And Peter comes here to insult us that his treason case was ‘stupid’?

No, Sir, out of the myriad treason cases in post-one party Malawi, yours was the most meritorious. The Singini report laid bare the facts; Peter and the Gang wanted to seize power illegally.

In fact it was only Goodall Gondwe who came out as a gentleman among the crooks. As we awaited to bury our dear leader, good ol’ Goodall confessed: “We were all confused seeing the once powerful Bingu lying there helpless on the gurney; we lost our heads and did stuff really stupid.”

So, Mr. President, you committed treason fair and square.

But I should not be telling Peter these things; he is supposed to be a veteran in these issues.

Actually Peter should thank the Joyce Banda administration for not putting its heart to the treason cases. I may not be a trained lawyer but I have been around long enough to know a prima facie case when I see one.

If Peter and the Gang were taken to the cleaners on this one, I do not see how they could have beaten the rap. The Singini report is clear that Peter was leading a band of power-hungry crooks salivating for power even before the body of their boss was cold.

So Peter should stop insulting us that his treason charge was ‘stupid’ for it was not. He should thank his stars that we are not a serious country for otherwise no serious country could have allowed characters with such glaring treason cases anywhere near any ballot, even for the position of a ward councillor!

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