By Emily Mkamanga
So far, Malawi has had its own share of hair raising and spine chilling statements made by the Heads of State. Malawians can remember so well the statement Dr Kamuzu Banda made when he got word that the late Chakufwa Chihana was coming into Malawi to fight against the dictatorship. Dr Banda surprised everyone when he said that if Chihana dared to come he was to be meat for crocodiles.
This was a confirmation that probably all the political opponents that disappeared without a trace were thrown to the crocodile infested Shire River. Dr Banda’s statement left an indelible mark in people’s minds about how cruel his regime could go up to. People lived in fear.
Little did Malawians know that in a democracy there would be threats and fear from statements by the Head of State.
To start with the sour relationship between President Bingu wa Mutharika and his predecessor Bakili Muluzi has created a lot of fear in the process. It is common knowledge that President Mutharika does not see eye to eye with Muluzi. What is strange about all this is that President Mutharika was handpicked into power by Muluzi. So, if Mutharika can dislike Muluzi so much, what chance has an ordinary Malawian got to be liked by the President? It does not need a genius to know that Mutharika is unforgiving.
The way he has sidelined his Vice President Right Hon Joyce Banda which was the same with Cassim Chilumpha is a clear indication of being intolerant. Honestly speaking such characteristic has contributed to the fear that has gripped the nation. Even his staunchest supporters might be doubting how well they fare with him.
To aggravate the fear, President Mutharika once said that he is not Jesus and therefore believes in tit for tat against his perceived opponents. He also advised the police to have a policy of shoot to kill wrong doers. No one would expect such words to come out from a Head of State who must recognise the rule of law.
Asking the police to shoot to kill nullifies the law which says one is innocent until proven guilty. What the President seem to forget is that, as a leader he must refrain from making careless statements which people can take advantage of. Without doubt it is by following his tit for tat policy, the DPP cadets freely toured the streets of Blantyre on 19th July 2011 in DPP pickups while blandishing machetes in readiness to confront the peaceful demonstrators on 20th July 2011.
Needless to say that there was unprecedented fear as Malawians watched the machete wielding DPP youths. Malawians had never seen anything like it before. Even Malawi Young Pioneers never went as far as that. Obviously most people were wondering if it was the Mutharika government’s intention to take this country on the Rwandan path of genocide. Malawi has been known to be a peaceful country. Therefore why should the Mutharika government initiate violence by allowing its youth to challengingly brandish tools for murder in broad day light?
The Mutharika’s shoot to kill policy had its first casualties during the 20th July 2011 demonstrations. It is believed that 18 Malawians lost their lives from police live fire. The government can come up with all manner of defence but the situation remains. Malawians were killed in cold blood. In fact the shooting of people and the comment from the President that these people died in vein, says a lot about the I – don’t- care attitude of President Mutharika and his government. Pointing guns at its own citizens is the worst thing people expect from the government in power.
It goes without saying that the threats and fear that Mutharika has created is just to divert people’s attention from real issues of poor governance and economic hardship that Malawians petitioned for on 20th July 2011 and will continue doing that till they are addressed.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the reign of President Mutharika has been full of threats which have created fear. The government must realise that Malawians fought for independence and democracy. It does not make any sense for any government to subject the people of this country to another fight for various freedoms and human dignity which democracy is supposed to provide.
Furthermore, personalising the fight is the worst thing that the government is doing. President Mutharika should know better that power is with the people. Demonstrations are not about putting into power Civil Society leaders such as Undule Mwakasungula or John Kapito. Malawians feel short changed by the DPP led government. Dishing out threats just shows the government has no clue about what the people want.
Emily Mkamanga. Email [email protected]Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :