Until lambs become lions, Malawi will rise again!

The kicks of a dying horse:

The Bingu wa Mutharika regime’s actions are reminiscent of the kicks of a dying horse. A few weeks ago, the police acting under orders from above, nabbed the former Attorney General, lawyer cum human rights defender, Ralph Kasambara and with little success tried to net all his legal associates, plus a magistrate and a judge.

For the efforts invested and wasted in Ralph’s arrest and subsequent persecution, the Mutharika Government attracted world-wide condemnation.

Not ones to be daunted by an increasing pariah status, and failure after failure, they were soon at it again. This time around it was the turn of Mr John Kapito – our main man and our pride – who was due to travel abroad to in his capacity as Chair of the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC). After failing to find whatever he is alleged to be having, he has since been released on police bail.

Malawi on the verge of civil disobedience

Statements coming from the police, typical of all the Mutharika Government’s cooked-up cases, are conflicting. The official spokesperson was insisting that Mr Kapito obtained forex irregularly – hence the arrest. Other sources, from within the same police force (it is not worth calling a service any more) told Kapito that he is suspected of having seditious material for which he will answer to a sedition charge. Which is which and who is fooling who will become clearer when the dust has settled, so let us move on.

And, as we were filing this piece, news had just reached Nyasa Times that the Malawi Police Force (Not a service) had violently disrupted a young presidential aspirant’s rally  in Lilongwe, the capital city. This is just the beginning. The public has already ran out of patience – and something will soon give in. The “titanic” is cruising at maximum speed and mis-firing on all engines towards an iceberg!

Rejecting history’s free lessons:

It is difficult to recall exactly where President Bingu wa Mutharika was between 1992 and 1994 when Malawi saw a similar chain of developments. A lot of the people surrounding President Mutharika however, played various roles; and they know the consequences of their misguided actions.

To be specific, Dr Hetherwick Ntaba was in the Presidential Committee for Dialogue (PCD) when the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) grouping was wrestling with the then Malawi Congress Party (MCP) government to move Malawi from a one party dictatorship to plural politics.

Ntaba and many of Mutharika’s bootlicking buddies were also there when the same grouping sustained a crusade against the third and open terms wished by former President Muluzi. In fact, Mutharika was the biggest beneficiary of the failure of the third and open terms ambition that Muluzi was harbouring. Therefore, he knows the potency of the unpretentious PAC.

CONGOMA/ PCDG Dialogue, a last and lost opportunity:

President Mutharika and his cronies, having failed to play by the rules when CONGOMA  (Council for Non Govermetal Organisation) flashed the yellow card on July 20, should now get used to the idea that they now have to contend with something more experienced and more menacing to tin-pot dictators, who are hard of hearing.

Arrogance, arbitrary arrests, suppression of dissent, state sponsored terror, vitriolic rhetoric from leadership, disrupting opposition rallies, and living in denial; are all attributes of a government that is on its way out well ahead of its scheduled time. If Libya’s Muammar Gadhafi had he lived to tell his story, he would have advised President Mutharika as much.

The PAC supremacy:

PAC’s success rate, ability and resilience to deal with burgeoning tyrants is the stuff that gives headaches and heart attacks to dictators. Hence the paranoia that preceded the March 14 Indaba and hence the employment of desperate measures by Mutharika and his hombres. And we have not seen the worst yet.

This falling Mutharika regime will orchestrate many Kapito-like arrests and will disrupt even more rallies. They are and will continue using the police force (not a service any more) and mercenaries – local and foreign – to perpetrate and entrench a reign of terror. In this very week of the PAC indaba, gentlemen with accents that do not belong in Malawi were being driven around by senior Malawi intelligence officials who, for now, shall not be named – but we know them. Since we know them, we are watching them as they try to watch us.

The regime will try divide and rule tactics, like it did with CONGOMA – which effectively derailed the planned secondary round of protests and weakened CONGOMA’s bargaining position. Unwitting University students have already been recruited to badmouth PAC. And more will be hired – just like the biblical Judas Iscariot – to be killed when too late, they come back to their senses.

But the regime cannot corrupt and fool all the students in all the universities all the time. And with respect to attempts meant to weaken PAC, the Mutharika Government is wasting its time – its efforts will come to nought. It is too little too late.

Now, sixty days may sound like a very long time, but before we know it, the sixty days will be gone. Of course, no-one expects President Mutharika to quit voluntarily without putting up a fight. Quitting, just as accepting responsibility when he has made a big mess of things, are non-existent in Mutharika’s nature or vocabulary.

At COMESA they had to fire him; and before that, elsewhere, we hear that they simply did not renew his contract. “Munthu wamkulu adangomusiya padzuwa” – because of his incorrigible behaviour.

For us Malawians, Edge Kanyongolo has put it very well. Forget about the Constitution. Use other means to rid Malawi of this pest. This (the constitution) is not the appropriate tool for people sick and tired of suffering under the yoke of Mutharika‘s ranking arrogance and gross incompetence. While the public respects the constitution at the pain of being arrested, Mutharika rapes and pees on the constitution at will.

Even if the Constitution had been water-tight, it still would not have helped any. Because Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has an overwhelming majority in parliament. Worse still, a lot of people in the DPP are gutter crooks who have been compromised and are prone to state blackmail. Therefore let the constitution stay put, as PAC, once again, lights the lamp (nyali ya referendum) to lead us out of this mess.

Coming back to CONGOMA, for all its good intentions, sending CONGOMA to deal with Mutharika is as good or as bad as sending a boy to do man’s job. For one, CONGOMA suffers from the democratic deficit. PAC, on the other hand, has a longer history than the DPP and draws its mandate widely. Its concerns are non-political and it has in the past more than once, demonstrated that it has the welfare of Malawi at heart.

The PAC Identity:

PAC officials may be like CONGOMA Officials, in that they are also not exactly elected. But nevertheless, PAC draws its membership from all sectors, all corners of Malawi and its membership extends to people of all faiths and even those of none.

Led largely by men and women of the collar, it is better placed than CONGOMA to hear and understand when its flock is weeping and wailing and to orchestrate a concerted nationwide remedial course of action. It has the networks and the man-power and for now, it is not yet compromised.

The PAC Ultimatum:

Without diluting CONGOMA’s gallant efforts, PAC is more pragmatic, and is aware that what is needed now is not open-ended dialogue but a non-negotiable ultimatum, ignoring which national civil disobedience will be inevitable.

To counter PAC, DPP operatives will have to infest each and every church‘s miphakati and malimana (and their Islamic equivalents). They have to petrol-bomb a lot of churches and mosques; and, this will be to no avail.

What are Mutharika’s options? In his shoes, any sane man except Mutharika and before him Gadhafi, would start packing. As well put by Chinsinga, he has practically been red-carded, like Dr Kamuzu Banda was in 1992. If he insists on staying on the field of play, people will be forced to forcibly get rid of him – and there will be many volunteers.

And when this happens, any modicum or vestige of respect – something he is always crying for – will go. Who knew for example, that the world would see ex-President Gbabo in a vest? But we know Mutharika; he will want to fight to the end, hence the apprehension by, among others, a group calling itself “Mzuni Concerned students”.

Check and checkmate!

Let us take a look at this fear. It is true that when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. But in the case of Malawi, the grass has already been scorched by a spate of bad laws, corruption, bad governance and poor economic engineering. What more is there to lose? Instilling this fear in people, was the reason Mutharika’s regime killed the July 20th twenty. Cowering from him is playing into his hands, unwittingly withdrawing the red card and licensing him to rule with impunity.

Further, Malawians have been down this road before. Malawians know that fortune favours the brave and that the meek do not always inherit the earth – unless they claim it as theirs. It is on this basis that Malawians must now stand steadfast behind PAC, to rise and rise again, until lambs become lions.

Malawi is on a countdown to reclaim her destiny. Woe unto him, who stands in Malawi’s way because Malawi is bigger than a few greedy individuals who have beyond doubt abused public trust.

The countdown has started: 60, 59, 58, 57……. not too long from now, the ball will once again, be in our court let us all rise and rise again, until lambs become lions.

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