Kabwila justifies her MCP cheer-leading: ‘Freedom of association’

Academician and rights activist Jessie Kabwila  has come out  in defence of  her  attending Malawi Congress Party (MCP) rally in Salima over the weekend addressed by party president Lazarous Chakwera.

She  attended the rally in full regalia of MCP and her picture was shared by many on social media.

Kabwila, a University of Malawi lecturer at  Chancellor College  who shot to fame for her leading role in the fight for academic freedom, on Monday justified her stand through a statement she posted on her Facebook wall.

“It is true that I attended the Salima MCP rally and exercised my right to freedom of association and dress,” wrote Kabwila.

Kabwila: It's my right to freely associate and dress
Kabwila: It’s my right to freely associate and dress

“ My father comes from Salima so when I am in Salima, I am with people of my home. I attended the MCP rally because I have always identified with MCP’s principles of food security, fiscal discipline and systems driven leadership that reigned in the times of first president of this country, MCP’s Kamuzu Banda,” she justified herself.

“I attended this rally because I think of all the major party conventions held thus far, the MCP convention was the most democratic. It brought forth Dr Lazarus Chakwera to be the president of MCP thereby opening a rare opportunity for MCP to assembly a technocratic team that is issue based and committed to the poor of Malawi, rather than the ruling elite,” posted Kabwila.

“ The coming in of Dr Chakwera in MCP is an opportunity for Malawi to end the curse of recycled leadership, start a chapter of servant leadership that is anchored on a solid technocratic base. I am glad to say I found this rally concretely promising in terms of offering Malawi the opportunity to end the business as usual, political mediocrity quagmire Malawi has been embroiled in for some years now. The Salima MCP rally was inspirational and full of hope for Malawi politics,” wrote the academician-cum-activist.

But commenting on her post, lawyer Bright Theu argued: “ Having exercised your rights you probably needed not even explain yourself. It unnecessarily opens your exercise of your rights to unnecessary critique in view of who people know you to be.

“ So for example those reading this post and have known your views about MCP during Kamuzu’s reign and the experiences your family was subjected to will be wondering whether you have genuinely ‘always identified with MCP’s chakutichakuti’, or it is now simply convenient to say so in order to take care of a vested interest e.g. to be one of the technocrats (well you are entitled to anyway comrade).”

Kabwila is on record denouncing women dancing for political leaders and Theu queried her: “When did cladding in party regalia and dancing for politicians change from being ‘abuse of women’ a cause history truly records you as one of the champions, to simply being freedom of association and dress Or rather when did you realise this is the case? People will be wondering if all along all you have identified with and are known for was simply out of convenience.”

Kabwila was also critical of the previous autocratic regime of late Bingu wa Mutharika and led Chancellor College (Chanco), Malawi’s largest public institution of higher learning, in its fight for academic freedom after police interrogated a lecturer who led discussion in his class political developments in North Africa which saw the fall of oppressive regimes there.

The DPP regime accused the lecturers of encouraging students to rise up against his government at a time the country was experiencing acute foreign exchange shortages and fuel.

Banda who came in power after Mutharika’s death April 2012 has so far guaranteed academic freedom.

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