Amidst the hullabaloo that has engulfed the country following the leaked document allegedly from the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB), someone said Malawians are fond of passing judgment on fellow Malawians without looking at the proper merits of the issue at hand.
He equated the current ‘Policegate’ saga to the mob justice practice popular in the late 90s and early 2000 when it was enough to just shout “thief” in order to have people to descend on anyone they did not like with mob justice.
Many innocent people in our cities, town centres and even the villages lost their lives to the mob justice, which spread like wild fire that time. It was, in fact, safe for suspected thieves to seek refuge at police stations than to be caught by a mob. People knew that the likely consequences with a mob was a burning vehicle tyre around one’s neck and inevitable.
It was common for all ‘thieves’ to run to police stations for protection whenever they were chased by a mob. It was total lawlessness.
That time it was also clear that our police had also somehow lost control of the situation, and no sane Malawian would want to go back to that dark era of our history as a country, the Warm Heart of Africa.
To say that the leaked report has created so much buzz on the social as well as mainstream media is an understatement. Every Jim and Jack now thinks they have the right to wake up and comment or shout “thief” because everyone else is doing it.
Quite a majority of people now think they are capable of throwing a salvo or two at the alleged culprit because it seems to be fashionable to do so. With this kind of practice, we could be going back to the sad mob justice days of the late 90s.
The principles of natural justice demand that all sides to an issue or argument must be heard in order to cultivate facts to arrive at a fair decision acceptable by all sides.
But the way President Peter Mutharika, the governing DPP and Zameer Karim of Pioneer Investments have been tried, judged and crucified by the court of public opinion has just been frustrating and plain unfair. It is akin to the mob justice days of the late 90s when kangaroo courts roamed down the streets, and did not allow people to be heard. This is not right and we will not progress as Malawians if we continue down this path.
Pioneer Investments was registered in 2008, and Zameer Karim has been at the helm of the company for 11 good years. The company has been operating smoothly, and in conformity with accepted corporate governance rules and best practices. There was not a time over the organization’s tenure of operation that it was found to be on the wrong end of the law, and it is not about to do that now.
Like any well-meaning corporate entities, Pioneer Investments responded to a tender invitation from Police Department to supply ration-packs. Its bid was the one found to be particularly responsive because the price that the company offered was much lower than the rest of the companies that responded.
The fact that the company was awarded the tender should therefore not shock anyone because this is normally how government procurement works.
The business environment is also often dynamic. Companies the world over, including in Malawi, operate in a complicated and intertwined global village where events taking place a world away can affect economies in another continent sometimes in a profound manner.
In order to mitigate against such contingencies, an allowance for adjustment is always often provided for in public procurement to avoid losses, and it was perfectly in order for Pioneer Investments to adjust the price of the ration packs in light of prevailing economic variables. There was nothing illegal.
All over the world, donations to political parties are allowed and Malawi can never be an exception. All political parties in this country receive donations either from local or international benefactors. In fact, our laws in this country do not forbid anyone from donating to any political party in a manner they deem fit.
Zameer Karim is a Malawian of Asian origin, and just like all Malawians, he is entitled to political thought and to belong to any political party of his choice.
If Karim believes in the ideology of the DPP and felt like helping the party to advance that ideology, he was well within his human rights boundaries to donate to the party that he loves. No one could stop him.
The DPP was also within its boundaries to receive the donation because it is not illegal for political parties in this country to receive a donation of any amount from anyone.
Again, it is not stipulated in the DPP constitution about how it should operate its bank accounts or indeed how it must manage its finances. That matter is left to the leadership of the party to create a financial management framework that they think would best serve its interests.
By creating an account and making Mutharika, as President of the party, the sole signatory the DPP has done nothing illegal and was perfectly within its legal boundaries.
The party has simply crafted a perfect management framework that it thinks will better serve its interests, specifically about its headquarters building project.
The usual hypocrites and later-day naysayers should, therefore, not take this as an opportunity to act ‘holier-than-thou’ when in real sense they are engaged in real and more heinous financial malfeasance than the one they are allegedly trying to moralize against.
The social media is a good thing because it helps in the sharing of information, particularly now when we are living in the digital era of informed societies. However, the social media can also be an anathema to democracy in that some people have taken advantage of the medium to peddle hate and to inflame situations.
This is wrong and all well-meaning Malawians must not allow this to happen. It must be the duty of all of us to be our friend’s keeper so that we promote just societies; we must not use the so-called ‘policegate’ to peddle lies or promote vested interests based on narrow political agendas.
President Mutharika and the DPP did nothing wrong to accept the donation, neither did Zameer Karim by making the donation to the party. There is nothing illegal about it, nothing at all.
- Kelvin Masambo is a social and political commentator based in Blantyre
DISCLAIMER: Views expressed in this article are those of the authorFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :