Something strange is happening in Malawi at the moment.
Ralph Kasambara, a prominent lawyer and former attorney general, has been arrested and kept at the country’s maximum and notorious prison. Several judges have granted him bail but the police are refusing to release him. At the time of writing this opinion, Mr Kasambara is being treated for a heart condition.
This story started a few days ago when people on Mr. Kasambara’s side claimed to have caught ‘thugs’ that wanted to kill the lawyer. Gruesome pictures of three bloodied individuals, tied together, were splashed all over the media. It was also claimed that the captives had already confessed to being sent by government on this heinous mission.
On the other hand, a cabinet minister is said to have claimed that Mr. Kasambara’s people were lying in order to cover up for their man’s crimes. She claimed that Mr Kasambara captured those three individuals in order to torture and sodomize them.
I have been following Malawian politics and affairs for a long time. I believe I normally have a good understanding of the country’s politics. However, the Kasambara saga is a big anomaly in that, one week after it started, I am yet to wrap my mind around it. It appears to me that both sides (government on one hand, and Kasambara and the opposition on the other hand) are saying lots of things that mock one’s intelligence.
This is a very troubling and unprecedented development in the history of our country. It used to be that only government was involved in propaganda; and the opposition fought back with the truth. If both government and opposition engage in falsehoods, what hope do Malawian citizens have?
Here I have prepared a few questions for both the Kasambara (including opposition and NGOs) and government sides:
For the KASAMBARA side:
- How did you know that those captured individuals were going to kill Mr. Kasambara?
- What weapon(s) did they have?
- Where did you capture them? … at Mr. Kasambara’s office, on their way to Mr. Kasambara’s office, or far away from Mr. Kasambara’s office?
- Did you call the police before or during the altercation?
- The men or ‘thugs’ we saw in the pictures were clearly bloodied, who overpowered them? Was it Mr. Kasambara himself? If not, how did the people who helped Mr. Kasambara to overpower these individuals knew to be at the spot to help him?
- How did they ( the ‘thugs’) confess? Were they, at any point, tortured?
- Who are these men? Are they policemen, soldiers, party loyalists, or just ordinary citizens?
For the GOVERNMENT side:
- Why is Mr. Kasambara being held in spite of numerous court rulings granting him bail?
- Why does government think Mr. Kasambara is a danger to the society?
- Speaking to a Guardian reporter President Mutharika argued that the fact that there are no political prisoners in the country is an indication that he is a democrat. Is Mr. Kasambara a political prisoner or not? If he is not, why are the police afraid to release him?
- Why did the minister of information feel empowered to insult Mr. Kasambara – a private citizen? How did she know that Mr. Kasambara wanted to rape all those men?
- Does the minister, herself a woman, not feel ashamed in making light of rape – a serious crime plaguing mostly women worldwide?
Both sides need to tell the full truth because Malawians deserve no less.