A president cannot defend a nation if he is not held accountable to its laws..” ― DaShanne Stokes.
Every government that we have elected since 1994 has been subject to gross misfeasance in public office and we seem not to care and the perpetrators have been let scot-free. Often times, we give those in public office to abuse us and that is okay because for us it is okay not to be okay.
Someone recently aptly described the government of Malawi as a ‘criminal enterprise’ and as citizens we did not even try to decode what this actually means. We either don’t care about ourselves, our country or we are plain stupid.
For starters, misfeasance in public office is a legal term which is a cause of action in the civil courts of England and Wales and in the Commonwealth countries.
Ideally, misfeasance in public office is an action against the holder of a public office, alleging in essence that the office-holder has misused or abused their power. That abuse of public office is a crime, it seems, it is not our business.
The tort of misfeasance dates back to 1703 when Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Sir John Holt decided that a landowner could sue a police constable who deprived him of his right to vote in the case of Ashby v White.
Again, this common law offence was was revived in 1985 when it was used so that French turkey producers could sue the Ministry of Agriculture over a dispute that harmed their sales.
Generally, a civil defendant will be liable for misfeasance if the defendant owed a duty of care toward the plaintiff, the defendant breached that duty of care by improperly performing a legal act, and the improper performance resulted in harm to the plaintiff.
Of course it is difficult to determine whether harm resulted from a failure to act or from an act that was improperly performed abuse of power is in the spotlight and the issue runs much deeper. However, the court of Commonsense rightly finds guilty any person who abuse public office for personal gains and perhaps a competent court of law.
Power is woven into human life and is often misused in many forms of bullying and harassment. Continuing the cycle of disgust and blame won’t change this. Some of this abuse is even socially sanctioned and rewarded, seen as a sign of ‘strong leadership.’ but is it?
To overcome all this nonsense of clapping hands for criminals and public office abusers, we need to do away with this ‘it is okay attitude and start holding people by the balls for this heinous crime.
I think, in my considered view, we strongly need a more rigorous and honest framework for discussing power in government and we must start building the capacity to confront power abuse meticulously and justly.
But sadly, we Malawians love to love making zeroes into heroes and villains into revered chevaliers.We love lifting people onto pedestals and award heroes richly, but we also love blaming those trying to speak the unspeakable because for us, it is okay not to be okay – Its okay.
Nothing makes us more secure than knowing it okay that it is NOT okay. We pretty much know that this is a childhood childish game,but we play it anyway because it is okay not to be okay.
What gets missed in all this is any honest discussion about how we sanction power and reward it, and how this plays into abuse.
I verily believe that oftentimes, we turn a blind eye to the abuse of the power. More disturbingly, we often reward the abuser: their ways seen as part of their flair and genius.
Now let us get to the grips.
On Saturday, December 1st 2018, the ruling political party, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is holding its fundraising event at State House from 11:00 am in the colonial capital city, Zomba.
The State President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, a law professor, will be the guest of honour at this auspicious event.
Now I ask; Does the state house belong to DPP? If not, who owns the State Houses in Malawi? How much is the DPP paying for the venue to hold their event?
On the day, water and electricity will be used plus the normal wear and tear and I ask again, who is going to foot the bills?
Do we care?
Two legitimate political parties, new kid on the political block UTM and political old-hands the once mighty Malawi Congress Party recently held their fundraising Dinner and Dance functions in Blantyre and both paid for the venue where they have had their fundraisers.
Why is DPP using a venue owned by the Malawian people without paying a dime? Is this not gross abuse of public office and power?
May I remind the DPP that State Houses are public resources and that all taxi-paying Malawians owns them and that they have a say as to how their resources should be used?
May I also remind Mutharika that as the President of the Republic of Malawi he has a duty to protect the country’s resources from abuse and misuse and that failure to do such gives rise to misfeasance of public office?
Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima, the rightful Vice President of the country who has the same rights and benefits as the president chose not to hold his UTM’s fundraising event at his official residence at Mudi or in Area 12 in Lilongwe but opted to go and hire Comesa Hall because he understands that there is a clear difference between a government function and a political party function.
Why can’t Mutharika not see and act this way – respecting the people of Malawi as the landlord of the houses he live in? Does he know that he does not own any State House in Malawi but that he is nothing but a mere tenant?
And Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, is this not your time to show your biting teeth? Dr. Joyce Banda, where are you at? Professor John Chisi and many other political wannabes why are you sleeping?
Mkazi wamwini sautsira mchira!