We once were all members of Malawi Congress Party

And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” – John 8:7

In last week’s column, entitled “Calling for respect for the principle of separation of power in Malawi,” drew some ripples of reaction. The column was basically underscoring the critical role the principle of Separation of Powers plays in our democracy in Malawi; how there is the need for all institutions and individuals alike need to respect the rule of law. A major point was made that claimed fair and square, that there is no room for any of the three branches of government to believe that it is superior to the other and therefore cannot be censured by the law.

Ngwazi Kamuzu Banda: Led Malawi for 31 years in one party MCP 

The first reactant to the column was a Thungande, who asked for an explanation as to why the judges determined on issues that were not in the case. He or she said that the “petitioners asked the court to annul the Presidential poll. Why did the judges introduce 50+1?

Then a Najere waxed lyrical and went way down low and personal. Her or his outrage said “A Janet Karim, you just want to humiliate yourself. You ate enough during MCP’s Kamuzu regime with your father Nyemba Mbekeani before you married late Karim. What point are you trying to make? Parliament is sovereign – it can pass or reject bills. Tell your judges that they overstepped their mandate. Do you know what ‘Separation of Powers’ means? Or you are just joining the bandwagon in the hope that you can get a position from Chilima or Chakwera. Unatha iwe (translation: Your time ended) – just go to retirement.”

I seldom respond to commentaries from the reading public; I am however compelled to respond this week on two counts; firstly, for the honor of my late father, Ambassador N.W. Mbekeani, and my late husband. Secondly, to put into proper perspective various misconceptions entwined in the responses.

On the point that I am humiliating myself is a no brainer: I put my name to my columns, never hiding my identity behind any untraceable pseudonyms. If in the process. I humiliate myself, it is only I who is disgraced and not an entire lineage with the same clan name as Najere.

While Najere accuses me of having eaten during MCP’s Kamuzu regime with my father Nyemba Mbekeani, it must be pointed out that every Malawian is a beneficiary of the works and achievements of Dr. Kamuzu Banda as the leader of the Malawi Congress Party. At the outset, we have a country called Malawi; secondly, we have been fortunate that as a result of the policies of Dr. Banda, Malawi has continued to enjoy an existence of peace. Thirdly, Dr. Banda was arrested in 1959, along with a large contingent of fellow freedom fighters. Joining the fray of agitators, was my father (Ambassador N.W. Mbekeani) and his brother (J.A. Mbekeani, former Post-Master General). As loyal, dedicated and empathetic followers of dr. Banda, they were raised to various positions of honor. The left of their stay in such positions, speaks volumes to the deliverables the two rendered to their country. It is needless for me to point out that it was not only I that benefitted (ate enough).

All Malawians eat enough and continue to eat the benefits of the foundation of the Malawi nation.

The point that were made in the article was clear and succinct. In short, there are three branches; these are namely the executive headed by the President; the legislator is the law-making arm of the government; and the judiciary exists to interpret the Constitution, adjudicating where and when necessary. All three branches are instituted and have powers that are enshrined in our Constitution.

This brings this response to the comment that states: “Tell your judges that they overstepped their mandate.” Firstly, these are not anybody’s justices; they are the justices of the land. The DPP, MCP, UTM, UDF, PP and other political parties must respect the role that the Judiciary has, in the same way, respect must be accorded to the Parliament, and to the Executive. Secondly the February 3, 2020 decision by the Constitutional Court, was precisely within the mandate of the role of the Judiciary, as stipulated in the Republican Constitution of Malawi.

The Constitution is clear and provides for a division in the powers of the three branches. This is what is meant by the ‘separation of powers’ means. By defending this principle, it does not mean I joined “the bandwagon in the hope that one can get a position from Chilima or Chakwera.”

Najere implies that I do not know the law or the Malawi Constitution. For the critics that may be concerned, I was a delegate at three of Malawi’s constitutional conferences (1995, 1997, and 2007). During the first one, I was part of distinguished Malawians (thank you VP Justine Malewezi); in the second, I part of a three-person representative of the media and women (thank you Esnath Kalyati who encouraged me to start a media women’s association), and third, as a facilitator at the review conference (thanks to Justice Anthony Kamanga). By this, one could say I’m the Benjamin Franklin of the drafting of the Malawi Constitution.

As a scholar of history (European, US, African, and world history, absolutely yes, I have a fair understanding of the meaning of separation of powers. Inherent in the term is the unity of purpose, which is protecting the Constitution.

On the comment that “Unatha iwe (translation: Your time ended) – just go to retirement,” I believe we should all retire; we should start with the President and Najere.

Responding to Tungande’s why did the judges introduce 50+1, permit me to draw attention to the famous Mwangulu decision on Press Trust. Mwaungulu, as have other justices, has etched a niche in Malawi law for his decisions, that have caused upheavals and much gnashing of teeth. The point is in the Constitution; and constitutional delegates, of which I am proud to have been one, fought hard to have the 50+1 provision to ensure that the winner has over 50 percent of the population.

Undemocratic politics in the past 25 years, has pulled water over it. The ConCourt has the foresight and their patriotism compelled them to unearth the provision.

Long live genuine democracy!

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Ndata Boy
1 year ago

Beautiful and well written article as well as educative unless you willingly choose to be foolish

Angoni apaphata
Angoni apaphata
1 year ago

Mukanangowalembera kalata kapena kuwayimbira phone back naherewo. Mwatitayira nthawi. Nyasatimes do not allow personal articles apa. Kapena nane mundilola ndilembe yanga yamakangano ndi onzanga o thumbi?

nachisale
nachisale
1 year ago

Especially Dausi, Herny Mussa, Bakili Muluzi, Ntaba, and many more……..You are not Saints

Chipani Cha Khupa
Chipani Cha Khupa
1 year ago

All I can say is that MCP is associated with the brutal and satanic regime. It was the most fear mongering regime ever. We lived in terror, Jehovah witnesses were persecuted for their beliefs, People were penalized for belonging to a certain tribe, or for coming from a particular region. Husbands, Fathers, Sons, were incarcerated and disappeared without explanation, People were forced to buy membership cards and party regalia even when they had no food, women, girls, school kids were forced to line up in scorching sun and increment weather for hours just to pay homage to the leader. it… Read more »

Angoni apaphata
Angoni apaphata
1 year ago

Nanunso in. That was in the seventies. In Uganda idi amini amapha anthu. Ku Joni kunali apartheid. Even USA was struggling with racist laws. You can’t label mcp ndi nkhanu za kalekale. Move with time. Mukawerenge za achina Mobutu seseseko, Rawlings, Charles Taylor. In that era it is only Kenneth Kaunda who treated his people with respect and they looked at him as a fool.

Khanda
Khanda
1 year ago

It’s pretty obvious that you never suffered the wrath of MCP, for those that were affected by this brutal regime the wounds are so deep and the scars hurt so bad to this day! So if you were part of the elite and close to the ruthless Dictator and his crones you ave no clue what other people went through so shut up

Analyst
Analyst
1 year ago

Janet munadya nthawi ya MCP. The membership was forced. Even unborn babies were forced to be members

mchisala
mchisala
1 year ago

It is very telling that both clueless and unprincipled Mutharika and Jane Ansah do not know the principle under which the Judiciary would do what it did!! The principle of checks and balances allows the Judiciary to review the manner in which the Parliament or the Executive are performing their constitutional duties and Parliament can not invoke Parliamentary privilege’ to perpetuate violations of the Constitution’. .In other words in such situations the principle of Separation of Powers is set aside! Well done Janet!

Wiza
Wiza
1 year ago

Well explained. People who benefit from poor governance will always want to fault those that would want to see sanity prevail in the running of state affairs. Big up Janet.

Hora
Hora
1 year ago

Janet, I have liked your explanation, it is simple well punctuated and articulated. Indeed we were all once members of MCP,the lot that can have the privilege of distancing themselves from it ,are the ones born after 1994 but still being sons and daughters of ex MCP by extension we remain and still have its DNA . Also we have to be mindful of the fact that even in a family some children eat more than others yet they are being fed from the same pot/ plate.

Ben Thandulo
Ben Thandulo
1 year ago

Professional Mutharika disparaging allegations about MCP, the main opposition party, are misplaced. Well, look who called the kettle black! He is working with former president Muluzi (and his son) the former Secretary General and Administrative Secretary of Malawi Congress Party under Dr.Banda. Most of the people that ran to UDF and DPP had done so to take political cover after Operation Bwezani. Dausi a former body guard for Dr. Banda knows some of the Lomwes who were die hards in MCP. Of course Zonse Zimene Zikamuzu Banda, including a muna eni eni a ‘Brown Mpinganjira’. Anyway, all the personal attacks… Read more »

Chipani Cha Khupa
Chipani Cha Khupa
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben Thandulo

very well articulated!!

Malawi belong to the citizens

Long live genuine democracy long live.

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