The return of the Ngwazi: Malawi Police warning to opposition

The Chief Mourner:

How idiotic can an administration be to allow its police service to issue an absurd warning such as the one that has recently been issued by the Malawi Police Service?

When Gogo Sinsamala phoned me from a borrowed “Mose wa lero” to inform me of this latest stupidity from Amai’s administration, I could tell that he was in stitches of laughter. As Chief Mourner, however, I could not help discerning that the matter is beyond funny. It is tragic.

There can be nothing more tragic and demented than an administration that allows a police officer to wake up in the morning, put on his full police officer’s uniform, say goodbye to his kids and tell his wife to tune in to the radio at noon because he is going to make the important public announcement that no one in the country is allowed to imitate the President. As if that is not stupid enough to qualify both the speaker and those that sent him for the mental hospital, this administration can even allow the so-called warning to contain examples- banning the use of motor bikes, bicycles and open topped Land Rovers.

Peter Mutharika: On open Land Rover

I have searched so earnestly in the pages of antiquity looking for an example that can match this mother of all foolishness, and I must admit that I am still searching. The Department of National Archives out there in Zomba have given up on my request, informing me that I will have to depend on oral history as their written records do not go back far enough to reveal such an example of nauseating ridiculousness.

Gogo Sinsamala was apparently laughing because he recalled that even the colonial masters, who brought the federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland that the late Ngwazi Dr H Kamuzu Banda referred to as stupid, still allowed him as an opposition leader to go around campaigning for independence in an open top Land Rover registration number BA 816. He found it hilarious that even with that huge donation of balls from the Americans, Amai still has no balls to resist Dr. Banda’s autocratic tendencies.

But Malawians should not let the clownish nature of this announcement prevent them from appreciating the tragic decline and regression of our country into the autocracy of the Kamuzu Banda regime where even the title “President” was reserved only for him. There is absolutely no difference between that decree issued by that Banda administration (Kamuzu) and this decree, issued also by another Banda administration.

These Banda specific, autocratic and oppressive notions bring the sort of repression to Malawi that this country should never in its right mind, ever see again.  Amai’s warning should simply be a forewarning to all Malawians that a mandasi genius who cut her political teeth under the repressive Kamuzu Banda administration is dangerous as she will continue to turn the country into the only type of political environment she can be comfortable in. Her authoritarian ideas will continue until she brings Malawi to its very knees, leaving it in the state it was in the 1980s- a repressive one-party state in severe economic hardship, with only a few individuals amassing great wealth at the expense of the masses.

The Chief Mourner could take the approach of Gogo Sinsamala, and fall over with laughter at the comical nature of this announcement. For example, given that the Chief Mourner uses a dilapidated Land Rover whose roof disappeared back in the years of the Muluzi hunger; will he need to visit the Ndirande backstreet chop-shops and try to have his Land Rover re-fitted with a roof using scrap metal from bus chassis and road signs? Why does the warning seem to be directed at politicians alone?

This idea of imitating-what does it mean? If the politician is the first politician to campaign in a helicopter, is he imitating?  For I have never seen an incumbent campaign via helicopter in Malawi. Can a male person imitate a female president? Is the president herself allowed to imitate anyone, throwing a sash over the shoulder after the manner of Sirleaf Johnson, for example? What about wedding and funeral convoys? Will they no longer be allowed under the “wise and dynamic” leadership of the most powerful woman in the world, kwacha devaluer, extravagant traveller, accidental leader, IMF pleaser, destroyer of economic stability and creator of the fantastic Economic Recovery Plan that needs a special recovery plan just for people to recover from laughing at her Economic Recovery Plan?

If this laughable idea were taken seriously and implemented, where would Amai draw the line? Given that Abiti Mwenye’s house looks a little like sanjika – only better – will she now be accused of imitating the President? What really is Amai’s concern anyway if anyone goes around in a convoy? That civil servants and the general public will soon stop sending their official memorandums to the State House and start sending them to the one who rides in the better convoy, or that donors will soon start signing their agreements with the owner of beautiful hummers and campaign helicopters?

The disturbing truth of the matter here, ladies and gentlemen, is not one of imitating the president but one of outsmarting the president. The Chief Mourner must do his duty and advice Amai to perform. That is how she will outsmart the opposition.

Demand your police service to improve public security in cities and towns, not spend sleepless nights worrying about which one of the opposition members has a better convoy than yours! Would it not be better for the police to be issuing a press statement against soaring crime and ask the general public not to imitate thieves and robbers? For example, wouldn’t it have been better for the police to issue a statement warning people against imitating the vice president in his practice of stealing beds from hospitals? Better still, wouldn’t it have been more appropriate for the police to issue a warning to the Vice-president forbidding him from imitating thieves?

The Chief Mourner refuses to bow so low as to take this daft warning seriously. God forbid that the Chief mourner should allow the tragedy of another dictatorship to be created in our motherland on his watch! The Chief Mourner therefore calls upon all opposition political leaders to ignore the announcement as a Halloween prank and continue their business as usual. If you have helicopters, use them.

If you have open top Land Rovers, by all means ride in them, complete with motorbike outriders, Hummers and Prados in tow. If you have a red carpet, let it certainly be laid out, and walk upon it with pride, pomp and ceremony, and with your head held high. Gogo Sinsamala has assured the Chief Mourner of an inexhaustible supply of funds for the hiring of defense attorneys, Human Rights experts and protest team should Amai continue on this ill-advised path and be so misguided as to arrest anyone on the basis of this autocratic and disgusting idea. What a low down dirty shame!

*The author, Allan Ntata is former legal counsel of late  president Bingu wa Mutharika and a member of opposition DPP, aspiring to be contest as secretary-general at the convention

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