It has now become all too convenient to romanticize the Malawian condition.This is tragic. The original anger and disgruntlement over a botched election has given way to a now very familiar and predictable status quo. Civil society is expected every now and again to announce dates for a protest. The country then resigns itself to another few days of unproductive holidays while people lethargically walk the streets and our usually unoccupied army finds something to do performing police duties.
It is easy to understand why. Much of populace is probably content to show a little bit of anger and to demonstrate solidarity with the protesters demanding Jane answer to resign. This, they reckon, they can do while all the time hoping and praying that the constitutional court will come to the rescue of a nation in governance quandary by ordering a re-run which to those that are in support of it, is simply the only correct and obvious decision that the court must reach.
The more I closely follow and consider critically the events unfolding in Malawi, however, the more I realize that Malawi’s problems are more serious than just the issue of Jane Ansah and her botched-up election. I am convinced that the elections case will not be the answer to Malawi’s problems, and that if Malawi is indeed to come out of the doldrums and sail smoothly to economic progress and prosperity, then we probably need to look elsewhere for the solution.
Looking beyond the elections and beyond the constitutional court case where the opposition candidates are entreating the court to nullify the elections, one has to be left in a state of despair when one considers the leadership bankruptcy that the country has exhibited since May.
Where in the world, for instance, would a police service of a country be involved in countless raping of women in an area without the president coming out to say something on the issue, and let alone act on it. I would have thought that the inspector General of police would immediately be fired by the president and an independent commission instituted to investigate the rape allegations swiftly and ensure that the perpetrators not only lost their police jobs but also faced justice. Not so with president Arthur Peter Mutharika. The path of wisdom for Mutharika in circumstances like this one is to insist that his Inspector General nominee – the man in charge as all these police rape incidents took place – must be sent to the national assembly so that his appointment can be approved. As I am writing this, not a single police officer has been arrested or charged for those Msundwe rapes. Imagine that!
Our problems are more serious than the elections fiasco because in the face of such callous abuse of women, Seodi White, a prominent woman in the Peter Mutharika Administration, believes that it makes sense to weep actual tears and stage a demonstration march in solidarity and sympathy with Jane Ansah, the Electoral Commission Chairperson, but refuses to lift a finger or raise a whimper when tens of women are raped by the police.
The Msundwe rape issue is a serious one. It is an issue that needed a decisive and serious leadership from the president and those around him.But the president has chosen to remain silent and pay a completely deaf ear to the cries of the women he claims to be keen to serve, and the service for which he is having to cling to the presidential seat to the point of going to court to earn this right.
If you are not convinced with this example of the seriousness of our problems, consider the issue raging at the ministry of lands. The ministry of lands is currently busy trying to babysit greedy cabinet ministers and stop illegal development of plots that were allocated illegally in Lilongwe. The minister of Lands himself is involved, along with a few other ministers and other DPP sympathizers. The issue reached a murderous height when one of those involved in the illegal developments went to the ministry of lands brandishing a handgun and threatened to shoot dead officers whom, as far as he was concerned, were meddling with his intention to develop property in Lilongwe. The matter was reported to the police and the individual was named as one of president Mutharika’s bodyguards. Did you think Mutharika, upon being told of this issue fired the offending minister along with the murderous bodyguard? He didn’t. Both of them still have their jobs and are still going strong while officers at the ministry of lands are walking around in fear of their lives all because of doing their jobs.
Still not convinced? Then consider how president Mutharika’s minister of local government has been going around changing longstanding chieftainships at his whim and installing his friends and stooges, while in the process causing chaos, riots and unrest in the communities. The latest one is where the said minister went to Rumphi and tried to meddle with long and well-established chieftain lines there. This misguided move resulted in protests where irate mobs unhappy with the minister’s meddling torched houses and rampaged the streets of Rumphi. Did you think Mutharika has done what you would expect a leader to do and fired this useless minister? He has not. The minister is still going strong and being allowed to disturb and mess up more communities and villages.
I imagine that in all these incidents, a leader who was grappling with the very legitimacy of his presidency would be quick to do the right thing and be seen to be actually mindful of the scrutiny on his suitability for the office of president. If the sword of Damocles hanging on his leadership in the form of the potential nullification of the elections by the courts were not enough, you would think that Mutharika could look to the legacy of his late brother for inspiration. After all, it was the great Bingu who did not spare his own minister, Yusuf Mwawa, when Mwawa was accused of corruption, and made him an example of his zero-tolerance policy on corruption by letting the ACB do its job and firing him from the cabinet.
To be honest with you, though, I am convinced that the memory of Bingu and his works and legacy has long been forgotten by the young brother who has decided to surround himself with advisors that are pursuing nothing but their own personal agendas. In the spirit Rehoboam of the Bible, it seems to me Mutharika’s leadership is saying to us, “My brother made you work hard, but I’ll make you work even harder. He punished you with whips, but I’ll use whips with pieces of sharp metal!”
Did you think Malawi’s problems are simply encapsulated in the elections case and in the now rapidly becoming stale Anti-Jane Ansah Protests?
I assure you dear uncommon sensers, they are more serious than that.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :