Undule is wrong! Pay ex-Malawi Young Pioneers members, victims of Operation Bwezani

I was deeply touched by an account of an ex-Malawi Young Pioneers (MYP) female member who claimed she was raped by seven men during a Malawi Army operation codenamed Operation Bwezani on December 3 1993 as she fled from her home in a remote northern part of the country. Operation Bwezani was a military assignment by members of the Malawi Army to disarm the Malawi Young Pioneers. While the military exercise had good intentions, albeit illegal, its results were catastrophic to many Malawians and will continue to haunt the country for the unforeseeable future.

EX- MYP members

The woman, who recently narrated her ordeal on a local TV station, claimed that from the incident she got two things she had all along most dreaded in her life: HIV and an unwanted pregnancy—in one pack. Thank God she is alive—and strong enough to tell her story—and so is the fruit of her womb from that unholy traumatic encounter with the seven men.

The woman—whose story could well be sugarcoated—could not help but shed a tear as she narrated her ordeal. She is one of the over 2 700 former MYP employees who are still battling to be paid their terminal benefits by government after the MYP was disbanded in 1993.

This week, a onetime human rights activist of note, Undule Mwakasungula, was quoted as saying the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and not the government should pay the terminal benefits to the members of the MYP. He is wrong. He has his facts completely upside down.

By virtue of Section 12A of the Young Pioneers Act (repealed in 1994) members of the Young Pioneers were public officers who until that time could be posted to other government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs). And a few lucky ones were.

The ex-MYPs have been seeking their terminal benefits since 1995. They have however traversed a long and winding road strewn with thorns and pitfalls partly because of lack of political will and partly because Operation Bwezani indiscriminately shredded most records of the MYP.

As most ex-MYPs forcibly retired, some were paid their terminal dues while others were not. Of those who were paid some were overpaid. While others were grossly underpaid.

But the saddest aspect of Operation Bwezani is that while it was meant to disarm the MYP movement, it caught some innocent citizens in the cross fire. I am aware of one unsuspecting young man who was shot in the head through the left eye in Zingwangwa, Blantyre. He died a few weeks later. May his Soul Rest in peace.

There are several other people who had nothing to do with the MYP but were also caught in the cross fire. These unlucky citizens had their property and businesses worth millions of Kwacha attacked, looted and vandalised in the mistaken identity that the businesses and property belonged to or were part of the MYP. Many innocent citizens who were not members of the establishment but had their property and businesses damaged have been languishing in spite of assurances that they could be compensated.

Fast forward; following a petition to former president Bingu wa Mutharika in which the ex-MYPs were seeking payment of terminal benefits and compensation for loss of property during Operation Bwezani, government established a Task Force on dialogue. The late president also promised that government would pay the ex-MYP members K500 000 each. But after Bingu died, may his Soul Rest in Peace, nothing much happened.

On July 31 2017, the ex-MYP members gave government five days to pay them their dues and compensation or face unspecified action which they described as Plan B. This followed a meeting the ex-MYP members had with Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe on April 4 2017 where they were assured that their payment was being processed.

Again since then nothing much of note has happened leaving the ex-MYP members second guessing about to do next. They have resorted to camping at the Memorial Tower near Capital Hill in Lilongwe to pressure government to pay them their terminal benefits. Nothing has materialized yet but this time round the ex-MYPs seem determined to ensure justice is done.

It is against this daunting background that statements like Mwakasungula’s twisted by MBC can only be described as ill-conceited and retrogressive. They can only be the result of lopsided thinking premised on a debilitating deficit of the country’s history and motivated by emotions rather than logic. Ex-MYPs like the woman described above were State employees and it is only fair that government expedites paying their terminal benefits. Those who lost their property during Operation Bwezani also deserve to be compensated. Those who have records of the property that was damaged and can afford legal recourse they should do so. The bottomline is that justice must prevail.

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chipatso mbewe
Guest

just pay these people u DPP government. These people were not employed by MCP but Malawi government, what are u trying show? They were civil servants like urself. A Mwakasungula alibe zochita that’s why atembenuka pano ndi cholinga choti apatsidwe money from DPP, and ma sure apatsidwa kale.

Joseph ndili
Guest
With all due respect, Mwakasungula is another one educated fool. It was unfortunate that he could be found on the list of civil rights activists. In all manner of respect, the disarmament of the MYP was done in an orderly way. It was out of emotions, jealousy and suspicion. If it were objective, all manner of procedure would have taken precedence. These guys in all fairness have taken the right direction in seeking redress to their plight. As a nation, let us be objective in our manner of thinking. Let us give them their dues. Anthuwa ndi a Malawi anzathu.… Read more »
Moya
Guest
The ffoundation of MYP was wrong, the so called MYP act was wrong, done by one person and rubber stamped in parliament that couldn’t oppose or question the purpose of MYP and the so many evil acts committed by MYP and worse still it was funded by our own tax money!!!, lord have mercy on those evil MCP souls!!. There are millions of evil stories committed by MYP and u want us to listen and be sympathetic to this one MYP woman’s story who know plays a victim? “Live by the sword die by the sword”Do u recall the evils… Read more »
nkhwiri inokwa
Guest

If think its unnecessary since we were told MYP was purely in agricuture, we were not told its a military organization,,,so no need to pay them coz its our tax,,,, or let MCP pay them since it was their military organization full stop,,,,,,,,

Wame
Guest
I remember late Bingu asked a question that I still remember he said “WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU MWAKASUNGULA?” this question referred to the mistakes Mwakasungula made on Dr Bingu as he formed task force criticizing Bingu’s administration, Mwakasungula’s criticisms made Bingu not to continue with the construction of the road to Livingstonia. Mwakasungula made 21 youthful people die on 21 July in some years ago. Because people were killed the donors became unhappy with him and withdraw funding, so he became bankrupted and join Government. The ex-MYPs are not for Malawi Congress Party they are Malawians and they were victimized… Read more »
Tione
Guest

They were government employees hence each government taking over, takes over everything so DPP should pay these brothers and sisters of ours. Osamayankhula ngat anthu opanda mitu ndi mzimu. Think if it were you or your relatives. Ndiye ngat zili zimenezo, Peter atulukeko ku nyumba zomwe adamanga Kamuzu amange zake azikhalao. If he inherited the houses, he also must inherit whatever was left undone!

enson Kuyokwa
Guest
MYP guys deserves their dues and its very sad to hear comments from my brother Mwakasungura like that.Sometimes when you comment emotionally in a society the result is that you look as if you are not a learned Lawyer. Arguments are supposed to be within your proffession(Lawyer).The issue of MYP is a long story that also requires accountability of taxpayers money which vanished just like that.Who authorised operation bwezani?Was this only meant to target MYPS alone and what about public assets these guys were using,who took them?These are the issues we Malawians should discuss.Please let us learn to love our… Read more »
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