It must be tough being Grace Chiumia these past few days. Our good Home Affairs and Internal Security Minister is landing into calamity after calamity. Somehow, if she is not starting some fire somewhere, someone is igniting fire for her.
Just as dust was settling down on Chiumia’s controversial—read illegal— order to police to arrest without investigation some 14 officers of the National Registration Bureau (NRB) in Mzuzu the other week over an alleged plot to hold a strike, she is back in the news.
She was representing President Peter Mutharika—then still outside the country—at the Gonapamuhanya Cultural Festival in Rumphi when suddenly, hell broke loose. By all independent accounts, youths from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) pelted stones at opposition figures, including Leader of Opposition Lazarus Chakwera.
The incident, coming just after illegal arrests of the NRB officers, offered Chiumia and police a perfect opportunity to redeem themselves and prove their fidelity to rule of law. Surprise! Surprise! They botched up, again!
As expected, police “are still investigating the crime”. Yet, this was a crime that happened in broad daylight and was watched by police, and least you forget, our good interventionist minister, too.
But we know why no action was taken. The perpetrators of the violence belong to the ruling party. It’s something DPP inherited from past ruling parties and something mighty DPP has mastered.
And if anyone had lingering doubts about which party the thugs belong to—one Francis Kasaila, actually, would like us to believe actually the opposition was responsible and its possible MCP youths were the ones causing the mayhem and, perhaps, high on some illegal stuff started stoning Chakwera instead of DPP officials—then wait if anyone will be arrested at the end of the complex forensic investigation police are conducting.
From DPP’s chequered history, we can recall also those who disrupted an MCP rally in Mzuzu a couple years ago, hacking and dismembering Chakwera’s bodyguards along the way, have not been arrested, too. And we know these ones will be protected, too. That’s what impunity does.
Yet, this is all dangerous ground for a young country. We are a genuinely, by nature, peaceful and amiable folk. To be fair, Mutharika, the CEO of Malawi Inc, DPP president and, crucially, Commander in Chief of the police and army, is a good fella too. He is not an abrasive character prone to acts of belligerence. A gentleman.
But now Mutharika has to ensure that this nonsense stops. It should neither happen in his name nor under his watch. While the president was away, the NRB arrests were another reminder why we don’t trust the President’s choice for Home Affairs Minister to handle this. She is erratic and impulsive; providing little room for reason.
When DPP youths opened the gates of hell at Bolero, Chiumia’s reaction was telling—especially when contrasted to the NRB saga. And, again, the reaction confirmed she is out of her depths. She knelt down in front of chiefs and said sorry. And that, to her, means closure.
Mr President, all this hullabaloo is happening just because of a bye-election for three parliamentary constituencies and three wards. One shudders thinking about 2019; our nation truly sits on a time bomb.
Then, as if the above is not enough for a seemingly out of her depths Minister, Mulanje –yes your own backyard Sir—is turning into a killing field. As panicking villagers are taking the law into their own hands over unfounded rumours of blood suckers, a crisis of sorts is deteriorating.
So far, six fellow citizens have been sent to an early grave in the most dehumanising way possible. And for all the want of cheap political scoring, three Cabinet ministers, sent to calm down a restless nation, deemed it necessary to use the crisis as an opportunity to take a dig at the opposition.
The three told a presser in the capital on Wednesday, they suspect the opposition to be responsible for the rumour mongering that has precipitated the killings. Really, how different are these Cabinet ministers from the village conspiracy theorists?
The other day, they conjured the implausible allegation that those who stoned Chakwera and company at Bolero were MCP members. Seriously, Mr President, when a country is burning, turning to cheap political scoring is an act of petulance. n