Survival of our Democracy

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard,” – H.L Mencken.

The revelations that came into light this past week only confirm what we all already knew and had feared all along.

Let’s not pretend that we didn’t know that this government was in a state of bewildering confusion and ultimate disorder.

For months now, some of us have been watching and commenting from the sidelines, warning that this Tonse government was lacking in many aspects, and that they were growing increasingly dangerous and becoming a threat to our democracy.

What has been alarmingly steady with this administration is their complacency with such ignorance about the reality on the ground.

This is a government that has continued to refuse conducting themselves in a manner that is above reproach.

They have lacked ethics and lowered the standards of leadership with a political calculus that has not only failed but has been also used to disregard the rule of law and Justice.

You see, central to our constitutional tradition is a requirement to maintain independence of all governance institutions.

Yet, sadly enough, the ruling elites have failed to recognize the importance of character and attitude that must accompany these governance institutions.

Because of their own appetite for corruption, they chose not to put in place people of high morals to safeguard our constitutional democracy.

Instead they intentionally opted for people who are devoid of high virtues such as open-mindedness, fairness, integrity, and courage to stand up for equality and justice.

‘Deep-looted ill’

At the rate things have been going, I personally find the audio leak of the ACB Director Martha Chizuma to be a blessing in disguise.

Had it not been for that leak, we couldn’t have managed to acquire any evidence of overt corruption.

We could only have speculated but there could have been nothing to provide the means to bring down a massive chain of criminals who have been clandestinely strangling our politicians , financial institutions, commercial and regulatory systems.

Although there is a general impression that Martha Chizuma is the only one remaining fighting against corruption, the battle is far from over.

Martha Chizuma alone can not reach that critical mass to end corruption.

This is a deep-rooted ill that transcends beyond just the office of the president and his cabinet.

Yes reconstituting the cabinet is a very welcome idea, but that alone won’t cut it.

The cartels that are running the show have a strong grip on almost everything including the whole judiciary leaving us with judges that are corrupt and self serving.

Our whole civil service is muddled and filled with rubble of corruption that cannot be fixed in an instant by one person.

However there is no challenge which can withstand the assault of good reasoning and strategic planning.

‘Corrupt Cartels’

This whole debacle as bad and ignominious as it may seem to be, it has provided us a chance to reset.

We need to take a deep breath and reflect lock arms with those who are genuinely fighting corruption.

This is not Martha Chizuma’s battle alone, she needs our prayers and support so that Malawi can be set free.

It’s only when we choose to have a collective stand as a nation to fight those who have violently invaded us with evil intentions to steal from the weak and poor, that we will prevail.

Epictetus once said: “The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.”

So to the many Chizumas out there I pray that you will find courage in knowing that good will always trump evil.

There is so much joy and satisfaction in knowing that you are standing on the right side of history.

In his speech when the President addressed the nation concerning the same scandal, he indicated a complete departure from what the Attorney General had effectuated as Amnesty.

‘Few untouchables’

The timing was very poor and looked more like a serious manoeuvre just to stop the justice mechanisms and create another set of rules for the few untouchables.

Whether the AG had a genuine reason to do that, we don’t know.

But the fact that he did it without any legal backing and in such a way that was not in tandem with the ACB, on its own it sets a terrible precedent.

Thank you Mr President for walking back from that unpopular stand and respecting the will of the majority.

We have to remember that no one is above the law, and everything that our leaders are doing has to be guided by the law.

In this case, the AG’s overreach superseded that of the president, the DPP, the courts and parliament.

Thabo Chakaka became the law.

And to make things worse, Malawians were not even consulted.

The underpinning of international amnesty law dictates that authorities must first establish and publicly acknowledge the facts about the crimes committed.

This may be achieved by the establishment of truth commissions although these should never replace justice mechanisms in that particular country.

Nothing of that sort was clearly followed by the AG and everything was done in such a hurry, begging the question if this was just a coverup.

The outcry and backlash that came from the majority of Malawians was just too much, but still the AG refused to walk back.

By virtue of his office, the AG is a government advisor on legal matters yes, but he is not supposed to be a political advocate for the cabinet or President.

He is the lawyer for the people and his actions have to reflect the will of the people.

‘Guiding blueprints’

The health and survival of our democracy will totally depend on the foundation and how much our government is willing to lay for the coming generations that will follow.

In fact every action that is being taken right now is setting precedents, examples that will be regarded as guiding blueprints for subsequent similar circumstances in the future.

Before we forget, we might want to put things into the right perspective. The electoral victory that was achieved in Malawi after the rerun of 2020 was a good thing which didn’t come on a silver platter.

But like they say, all good things are hard to achieve but they could be very easy to destroy.

There was a hefty price and immeasurable sacrifices that were paid. The collateral damage was huge with so much lives lost and so much property damaged.

This is the truth that must never be forgotten and must be told to our children lest they might forget where we came from.

Let these things be engraved on our hearts forever and let the history of our struggle and victory be in-scripted and tattooed on the foreheads and arms of every patriotic Malawian.

You see, it’s when we stop looking back to where we came from that we might start losing that common thread that puts us together as patriots.

We might lose a sense of national pride and begin to take things lightly and casually.

I am not saying that we should be dictated by our past, however the point is that; lessons from the past should not be forgotten to appreciate the present and set the course for the future.

The process and the path to freedom was not an easy one. It was a long fought battle that required a lot of effort.

‘Citizens’ Needs’

Frankly, we can not afford to just lose that in an instant just because of our carelessness and untamed ego.

That is why it is very important for all of us mostly our leaders to think about the impacts of each and every action even the ones that are made in good faith.

The fine pillars of our democracy were set on strong governance institutions, CSOs, Media, disciplined security force and informed citizens.

Every intention to suppress these structures will backfire, if not now but in the near future.

We all remember that what actually contrasted and separated Tonse Alliance from all previous governments was their pledge to be a government that would put citizens needs first.

I will leave it up to you to make your own conclusion if you are satisfied with where things are right now.

Notwithstanding what has become as a constant worrying trend is how we seem to be quickly deviating to our old habits and how we are fond of normalizing things that are not working as normal.

When we continue to allow those in leadership making decisions that they can not explain or squarely stand behind, we are all becoming complicit in the setting up of a culture where the rule of law can no longer be respected.

We can’t allow our leaders to get away with the cunningness thinking that they have a skill to make us believe that they are listening while they are achieving their ends by deceit or evasion.

It’s that lack of accountability that we are seeing now that has eventually corroded public respect.

I know our President is a very good man, but as to why he chooses to surround himself with uninspiring and corrupt individuals I can never understand.

Am not sure if he is made aware that every action or inaction he is undertaking has been providing a. negative impression – that he is the one providing a shield for most of the top most corrupt individuals – including some of the current senior cabinet ministers and rich Asians who are running criminal syndicates.

We should thank our social media activists who have relentlessly provided Malawians with information.

They have filled the gap that conventional media could not capture and relay.

‘Credible Voices’

We know that this government succeeded in stifling the effectiveness of some our media houses.

The only source of our information is from social media platforms and our local journalists who at times are also seen to be lacking.

Of late we have been watching with sadness how our friends in the media fraternity especially those on the leading TV platforms are relentlessly trying so hard to out do each other just to be noticed by the ruling elites so that maybe they could be next in line to be picked.

This is the precedent that this government has set and it is affecting sound ethics and professionalism in journalism.

It has been part of the government’s piecemeal strategy to consolidate all credible voices and suck them out by compensating them with high paying jobs elsewhere.

Just tune in this weekend and watch, a battle of semantics where the one who spins fast has the last word.

I should take a moment to congratulate Mr. Joab Frank Chakhaza of Zodiak and Mr. Wonder Msiska of TTV for standing out with objectivity and maintaining the high standards of professionalism.

Just like Isaac Newton once wrote in a 1675 letter to fellow scientist Robert Hooke, that; “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” I dare say that, you two, gentlemen of the mighty pen, are the giants that we are standing on to see further.

And to my fellow Malawians, we have a duty to fulfill collectively. Let’s continue to be vigilant and relentless in supporting those who are fighting for us.

Let us raise our voices to challenge those who are standing in the way of progress and development.

One of the world’s wisest men to have graced the planet earth, His Majesty, the Lion of Judah, Emperor Haile Selassie I, in his own wisdom once quipped that “throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph,” and I concur in entirety with this philosophy.

Brethren, now is the time to act, this is the moment we should be all voicing out against all social ills. Now is the right time for all of us to rise and be heard. Our voices are powerful if we echo them in unison towards our needs, our children’s future, our fragile democracy and everything we hold dear.

Our voices may be soft, but our voice has the power to change our world. Let us keep voicing out what needs to be done, even if they seem not to hear us or listen as they say “utisokosera mkulinga utamva.”

As i take my leave, let me leave some words of wisdom to those in power from Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg who said: “To ponder on When you give everyone a voice and give people power, the system usually ends up in a really good place. So, what we view our role as, is giving people that power.”


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