Atupele, Kapito arbitrary arrests: Mutharika’s classic post-PAC resolution blunder

ARGUABLY, political arrests in Malawi are fast becoming, and are most likely to become, an everyday experience in the Mutharika administration. The writing is clearly on the wall why and how is this the case. But, unlike the Jack Bauer-staged, lowly-backfiring Ralph Kasambara arrest, the recent ‘smoke out’ arrests of the quasi-state-funded Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHCR) CEO, John Kapito and the United Democratic Front’s self-declared Obama-admirer, Atupele Muluzi will venomously boomerang, politically, diplomatically, and policy-wise.

Politically, you would agree with me that both Kapito and Muluzi command some strategic following from the civil society world and the political wonderland respectively. Given this, the two are capable of sending very strong political waves of discontent and disenchantment to the Mutharika administration through their already angry and hungry Mutharika-must-go Malawians.

Atupele: We need change

In this way, the growing discontent in their followers will undoubtedly result into boiling need for action, first leading to conquering of fear to take action, followed by a new sense of responsibility and calling to politically serve the community, ending with a renewed need to ‘vomit’ their boiling anger. The result of this shall be ‘talk-madness’ where the followers will talk about the ills of the Mutharika administration to almost everyone they come across thereby buying more and more sympathisers. This is mostly the case of Atupele Muluzi’s local supporters. Resultantly, the local masses would sympathise with him as would be observed with the huge attendance of his rallies and local people’s willingness to sacrifice their life for him.

The case will slightly be different for John Kapito supporters. For him, he enjoys ignorable support from the local masses so much so that one would rarely hear people talk of his arrest. Nonetheless, Kapito enjoys massive support from the urban population whose supporters are mostly politics-informed and educated. Here, this urban population will keep the fire burning by increasing their contribution on social media sites as they would be racing for comments from friends through crazy graphic or lingual dramatization of the eyesores of the Mutharika administration. The more the people do this and the more the high profile civil society and oppositional political party leaders join them in doing this, the more the Mutharika administration gets more and more isolated locally and internationally.

Diplomatically, the arrests of the two leaders only confirm peoples’ litany of Mutharika’s increased haphazard movement toward dictatorship and intolerance. More miserably, the arrests send a clear message to the international community that their calls for Mutharika to start towing the constitutional line in as far as human rights and tolerance concerns are concerned are hitting deaf ears. Consequently, the international donor community will be forced to tighten the aid screws hoping government will heed their calls at least for once.

Again, the local as well as the urban population will thus become poised to become even angrier about the administration. Expectedly, the local masses will increase their lobbying for sympathy against the administration from the sympathizers of the administration. And because they cannot start a revolution, the result will be venting their anger on anyone deemed DPP or government supporter, how sad! The urban population on their part will enjoy the cacophony of anti-Mutharika sentiments in all the media–radio stations, newspapers, online publications, and social sites.

Policy-wise, the Mutharika administration increases the number of regime-changers and, quite obviously, largely decreases its sympathizers. This is the case because the administration is seen not to be pursuing policies that see Malawi out of the political and economic mess; but rather, investing their energies in something that adds salt to injury.

In the same way, the arrests seem to vindicate Public Affairs Committee’s (PAC) resolution that the Mutharika administration must go as the arrests means the administration does not have anything worthwhile to offer to Malawians; suggesting that, if anything, they have more arrests than people-benefiting policies to offer! That’s confirming the feeling that the administration has its priorities upside down; that is, it has put the cart before the horse.

However, the Mutharika administration is hell bent towards continuing with the arrests because, as far as the political party leaders, civil society organizations CEOs and other high profile leaders are observed, the arrest-strategy is giving dividends. If in doubt, just look around and observe, you would be stunned to see that these leaders and CEOs have all been pushed back into their cocoons, where they are enjoying their desk-activism and/or politicking earnings!

Since the arrests have been fruitful in the eyes of government, one would rightly surmise that the arrests are not over yet up until at worst two or so voices of reason catch the nightmare; Kamuzu Chibambo of Peoples Transformation Party (Petra) and Undule Mwakasungula of Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), and also John, John-Gift Mwakhwawa, president of the Malawi Law Society (MLS).

The point the article is driving home is: the arrests of John Kapito and Atupele Muluzi smacks of the fact that the Mutharika administration has put the cart before the horse, and that it is in for more classic blunders.

*Henry Chizimba, Fourth Year, Education Humanities, Chancellor College

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