Under the one party dictatorship, people suffered with some facing state executed prejudicial killings. It is difficult to state exactly how many, but many people died.
There were outright murders like the 1983 Mwanza four (ministers Dick Matenje, Aaron Gadama, Twaibu Sangala and MP David Chiwanga), suspicious deaths like the one of Dunduzu Chisiza, people who simply went missing – presumably fed to crocodiles, and many others that went unreported.
Famous dissidents were pursued even beyond borders and assassinated. Attati Mphakati for example, was letter-bombed and died on March 24, 1983.
Orton Chirwa was abducted with his wife Vera and son Fumbani in Zambia to face a kangaroo court in Malawi. Chirwa later died in prison in Zomba after Dr. Banda had, under pressure, commuted his death sentence to life.
Of Mkwapatira Mhango, writer and scholar Linje Manyozo – who surprisingly uses very soft gloves on the current government – wrote:
“On 13 October 1989, an exiled Malawian journalist Mkwapatira Mhango and about nine members of his family were firebombed in Zambia by agents of the then MCP government. Evidently, like a hunter drunk with the blood of his hunt, the late President Banda would boast about what had actually happened; like in the case of the 1981 abduction of the Chirwa family or the1983 Thambani murders. So he did with the death of Mkwapatira Mhango.”
While these killings and other forms of oppression buttressed the one party rule for 30 years; they could not turn the rising tide against the one party regime. In 1992-94 Malawians condemned the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) to the opposition benches, where it has languished ever since.
Thanks partially to Bakili Muluzi’s misguided efforts to play Malawi’s godfather and to Malawians inability to quickly recognize a con man when they see one; Malawi has reverted to the dark days.
In control is not the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) but the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Using the same tactics, as if Dr Mutharika was understudying Dr Banda, the National Intelligence Service, the Malawi Police and the DPP youth cadets are in the forefront dispensing terror.
The later can even brandish matchetes “for fun” in the city of Blantyre, while chanting songs designed to instil terror in the public, while the police feign ignorance.
At least 19 young unarmed people died in July 2011 – following mass protests. A few months later, a University student – who got entangled with the Malawi Police hoping to prevent a repeat of the July 2011 massacre in planned but failed subsequent protests – ended up giving his life in acrimonious and yet to be explained circumstances.
Since July 2011, the Malawi Police continues to use force with impunity even where none is needed and even in situations where their very presence is not required. A case in point was the recent fracas between the Police and United Democratic Front supporters that saw Atupele Muluzi arrested at a planned peaceful political gathering.
Atupele Muluzi’s arrest and his subsequent detention at Maula Prison – a classical political bungle by the Mutharika regime – resulted in protests. On Wednesday 21 March 2011, angry UDF supporters blocked Paul Kagame High way demanding his immediate release. This of course was an opportunity for the police, who are being heftily rewarded for their barbaric acts.
For their brutal action on March 21, 2011 the police have a trophy in 20 year old Thokozani Chinganyama, who is now at Kamuzu Central Hospital. Paralyzed and dumb there are no facilities at the referral hospital to help him.
His sister, Mrs. Mafunase Tembo told Zodiak Radio that Thokozani was going about his own business (catching a taxi) when riot police shot him with the teargas canister on the head, left a cut, and some of the smoke engulfed his head.
Commenting on the young man’s prospects, a doctor speaking on condition of anonymity, fears the worst if no immediate medical attention outside Malawi is provided. The teargas poison is slowly destroying the young boy’s brain he says.
“Teargas poison is slowly penetrating and damaging his brain. What will happen is that if the poison covers the whole brain, he will be completely paralyzed.”
Malawi Police response to this has as usual been less than human. According to Malawi police spokesperson Davie Chingwalu, they are not even aware of the incident.
“We have not received that report but we will investigate and come up with a report.” Just how this “report” will revitalize poor Thokozani Chinganyama, Davie Chingwalu has yet to tell us.
Why, for Chrissake, are things like this happening in a multi-party state? Is it really true what Bakili Muluzi said the other day, that the man holding Malawi at ransom “was born without a human heart” and this is what is now manifested in all state and DPP organs?
“Inu mumati zidzakhala choncho mpaka liti abale?
Ana a Mulungu sangakhale akulira masiku onse amoyo wawo!
Analanda ufumu kalelo naupereka kwa oyenera!
Ndi chani chingamulake Ambuye Mulungu wa chilungamo, ndi wa chisoni?”
Mabala, Lucius Banda
One thing is for sure: one day, someone will account for all these ills. Ironically, President Mutharika is the one meting out penance on Muluzi for his lapse of judgement. This should serve as proof and a warning to him that somewhere along the line, there is a person will avenge the powerless, people like Thokozani Chinganyama.
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