Since we arrived in Balaka we have had some very good time. The meals at Kozemberana Lodge are unbelievably delicious. If President Jacob Zuma tasted them, he would immediately change his views about Malawi’s state of development. In the evenings we have been out to entertainment joints whose names we will not reveal. In the day, we have been at Chikondichatha Stopover drinking fantakoko and cervaja da Nampula. Yesterday, we had an altercation with the traffic police at Balaka Market. The police officers stopped us for over-speeding and asked us to pay a fine there and then. But, Sheikh Jean-Philippe LePoisson decided to put up a fight.
“Sir, this is a highway. How do you expect us to drive at less than 50 KM per hour?” Sheikh Jean-Philippe asked.
“The law says you must slow down wherever there is a built up area,” one traffic officer explained.
“Why does the law allow people to build close to highways?” Sheikh Jean-Philippe went on.
“My job is to enforce the law and not to answer silly questions. Do you understand? I can lock you up for blocking police officers from performing their duties. Go and park your rickety thing there,” the traffic officer said angrily, as he waved us to a place where two other police officers armed with receipt books and a date stamp sat.
“Now we are in real trouble!” I murmured as I drove the vehicle away from the main road.
“Why don’t we just pay?” Leader of our delegation, Abiti Joyce Befu, also known as MG 66, suggested.
“We will pay, but we need to know what the law says,” Sheikh Jean-Philippe maintained.
When we got near the cashier police officers, I parked the vehicle and asked everybody to stay in the car. I walked to the police officers with my hands clasped in humility. I asked the officers to be lenient with us.
“The fine for over-speeding is K5000,” one cashier police officer said.
“I know, but…”I said.
“If you know then just pay.”
“We don’t have enough money,” I pleaded.
“Okey. How much do you have?”
“Fine. I will charge you with inconsiderate driving. Give me the money,” the cashier police officer said.
I paid and he gave me an official receipt. I walked back to the car. I drove into the main road. I waved at the traffic officers. Native Authority Mandela, too, waved. Then from nowhere Sheikh Jean-Philippe asked the police officers why they did not check our boot. The traffic police officer with whom Sheikh Jean-Philippe had exchanged words waved me aside to park. He approached and asked me what Sheikh Jean-Philippe was up to. I explained that the Sheikh was an excited journalist who liked asking funny questions.
“Journalist? You are journalists?”The traffic police officer asked, “You want to start making funny statements when I lock you up?”
“Funny statements?” I asked.
“Last week, Milky Way FM doctored an official document to link some people the radio station’s owners hate to the cash theft. The Police invited the radio station’s reporters for interrogations. Shamefully, instead of condemning the falsehood the radio station broadcast, your media organizations lambasted the police and the complainants. Isn’t that funny?”
“I agree with the officer,” Native Authority Mandela started, “You see journalists must learn to discipline each other the way lawyers and physicians do. It surprises me that journalists associations defend a journalist who has deliberately and maliciously defamed somebody. Why?”
“How do you know that Milky Way FM deliberately and maliciously defamed somebody?” MG 66 asked.
“You remember the document you showed me clearly indicated that some people’s names had been altered in pen. A clever journalist should have known that something was fishy. Even after making such a horrible mistake, the radio station refused to apologise. Is that what you call journalism? Is that what your media organizations stand for? Surely you can do better. Call garbage garbage,” Native Authority Mandela said.
“I also have a feeling that journalists should be probed and made to declare their assets,” MG 66 said.
“Why?” Sheikh Jean-Philippe asked.
“Most of them live beyond their means. Imagine someone who earns K20,000 per month owning a house in Area 47 in Lilongwe, a vehicle, a set of smart phones and a string of mistresses. Where does he get the extra money for such highlife? By being paid to defame some people, I guess.”
“Dr Levi Manda, a media trainer blogs at:http://levimanda.blogspot.co.ukFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :