Of Justin Malewezi, MBC, runningmates and corruption in Malawi

Distant past Vice President Justin Malewezi has been in the news lately, all  in exercise of his rights, which is granted.

First, a couple of weeks ago, he talked about the need to ensure that the  Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) should open up to all contesting candidates and parties to level the playing field needed for a fair election.

Second, some days later, he urged political parties to identify, in good time, running mates for their presidential candidates to afford the people adequate time to familiarize with them.

Dr. Malewezi is not just any other person. He has already been introduced at the onset as having served as Vice President of Malawi.

Malewezi

Malewezi

In fact, he is the only person to have been privileged to serve as Vice President for a “maximum of two consecutive terms of five years each.”

He has also just been addressed in the preceding paragraph as a doctor of philosophy.

The two succeeding paragraphs combine to justify the safety of an assumption that Dr. Malewezi should be an informed man both by experience and intellect.

With regard to matters at hand, it is safe, therefore, to assume that one cannot rise to the position of Vice President of a Republic, and indeed attain a doctorate of philosophy without being familiar with the relevant law and pertinent matters that attend to presidential elections and the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation.

Which is to say that when a person of such stature, in both standing and intellect, makes statements that smack of ignorance, such gaps of commission or omission can only be deliberate, taken on the scale of probabilities.

Granted, timely marketing of candidates in an election is vital. Suffice it to say that the need of ensuring that their torchbearers touch base with the electors in good time merits gnawing at the conscience of every contesting political party.

Former Vice President Malewezi just needs to explain what, in his recommendation, is good time. Because, for all that is known, the law governing elections in Malawi has appointed what the people of Malawi, in their collective wisdom, sanctioned to be the right time.

This time is when Parliament has been dissolved on February 20 in each and every election year. This is the time when campaign period opens and  candidates confirm their intent to contest by presenting their nomination papers to the Electoral Commission.

Does Dr. Malewezi suggest that he is not aware of this piece of legislation?

The likelihood of him not being aware is almost non-existent because he was running mate, twice, to Dr. Bakili Muluzi by operation of that same law.

Not only that, having ran as an independent presidential candidate himself in 2004, he chose Jimmy Korreia Mpatsa as his running mate by appointment of that law.

He cannot suggest that political parties must choose their running mates outside this legal framework because that will be unlawful.

In fact, does Dr. Malewezi need reminding that it is not political parties that choose running mates for their presidential candidates? That duty has, by the Constitution of this Republic, been left as a preserve of the presidential candidate.

Therefore, Dr. Malewezi is wrong on both counts. He is urging political parties, first to break the law by choosing running mates before the lawful time comes and, secondly, he is urging political parties to usurp the lawful right of their presidential candidates to choose their running mates.

If the provisions of the law as they stand don’t sit well with Dr. Malewezi, does he not have to do what he rightfully should, instead of urging others to violate the law?

Laws that are not good are subject to amendments or repeal all together.

Dr. Malewezi is entitled by law to cause these modifications to the legal framework. He can promulgate a private bill that can be tabled in the National Assembly to cause the alterations to the law as they suit him.

He can lobby one MP to table it for him and others to support it. Can he do this, instead of wasting time giving undeserved stories to the sometimesover-willing Malawi media!

Leave that alone, Dr. Malewezi bemoans the conduct of the MBC in terms of how it contributes to the uneven playing field with regard to elections.

If this concern is genuine and innocent, as it must, Dr. Malewezi should have protested when while he was Vice President his UDF administration adulterated the recommendations of the Law Commission that sought to free MBC from political abduction.

Let us try to justify our misgivings with the integrity of Dr. Malewezi’s concern. Under pressure from voices of concern that MBC was the hostage of the ruling party, the then President Muluzi caused the setting-up of the

Law Commission, under the chairmanship of the then Law Commissioner Justice Elton Singini (retired), to review the Communications Act.

The Law Commission presented its report to the authorities, complete with recommendations, among them that the statutes that lend MBC helpless to the machinations of a governing party should be changed. The UDF administration cabinet, to which Dr. Malewezi was a member, threw out those recommendations.

Thus, throughout the UDF rule, MBC remained the mouthpiece of the UDF.

If MBC contributes to an uneven electoral landscape, as Dr. Malewezi  alleges, then he benefitted from the uneven elections that made him Vice President of this Republic, twice.

Or did he not protest then because he was the beneficiary of the MBC alleged shenanigans? The point is that the UDF government, for which he was second in command, never freed MBC. Elections were held and won by the UDF while MBC was still under political hostage. And yet Dr.  Malewezi never uttered a word of concern.

Has Dr. Malewezi ever seen an example of a HYPOCRITE? Let him look in the mirror and the person he will see in that mirror is the example. People must not condemn things because they have ceased to suit or cater to their purposes.

During the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration, MBC was  also under captive. Dr. Malewezi never said a word of protest.

How the immorality of editorial bias escaped the selective glare of the doctor  of philosophy throughout the reign of Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika is a puzzle only he can unbridle.

Then suddenly, and it must be sudden indeed, after 18 years – 10 years of Dr Bakili Muluzi and 8 years of Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika – Dr. Malewezi can see the light of immorality in the business of MBC.

What has given this sight to Dr. Malewezi?

The grapevine has it that recently Dr. Joyce Banda appointed Deputy Minister Kamanya to lead the Malawi delegation to the Kulamba ceremony at Mkaika in Zambia. Dr. Malewezi protested the appointment. He insisted that only he would lead the delegation. To this day he has not given the reasons behind his  protestations. Maybe those hidden reasons are the ones that have given him the sight!

Finally, the CCD would also to condemn Dr. Malewezi’s hypocrisy of condemning corruption now when he did not condemn it when it was rampant  during his reign as Vice President. He owes the nation an explanation on how he financed the construction of his Kuka Lodge and numerous other  houses in Lilongwe.

*Catherine Kanjomba, Citizen Committee on Democracy

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