The making of banana republic

At the expense of one Kamlepo Kalua, we had a good week of laughing. As troves of meme after meme poured scorn on the poor gentleman from Rumphi East for his alleged self-abduction, one could not help it, but fell to stitches.

Internet has no mercy. And so does the court of public opinion. Within hours of Kamlepo’s reappearance to the outside world, from his mysterious abductors’ hideout—social media went out for his fresh, pound for pound.

If, indeed, Kamlepo staged his own abduction, hoping to score a cheap political mileage and cry harassment at the hands of government or its agents, well, social media responded in kind:  mercilessly, belligerently, comically!

“As police, we carried out preliminary investigations since morning, when Honourable [Kamlepo] Kalua was found at Kwacha Roundabout and we have established that he faked the abduction,” concluded National Police Headquarters spokesperson James Kadadzera in a statement.

He added: “His outward appearance did not show someone who had been kept in a house or a garage, as he kept on changing the statement, amid torture for a week. He had not any scar.”

Even police were brutal in their assessment. 

No one, apparently, is wasting time checking whether Kalua was, indeed, a victim of some serious crime. In a country where police have failed to be convincing explaining past serious politically-resonating crimes, such as Robert Chasowa and Issa Njauju murders, such a rush left to explain Kamlepo’s predicament left many with a yawn.

Far from enjoying the memes, it is also clear that Kamlepo, if indeed, he was attempting to trick the public, was only doing so because the environment is fertile for his actions.

And that is far more worrying than one MP trying to play Clever Aleck. After all, one Moses Kunkuyu, also once, allegedly, used this playbook and got away with it.

What is pertinent now is that Kamlepo thought we could all be gullible enough to accept his dummy because latest media reports about the volatile political situation in the country had conditioned us to.

Look, Kamlepo was recently a victim of government’s increasing campaign of muzzling opponents using State agencies. Just weeks ago, Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) in a suspicious move raided both Kamlepo’s house and his son’s, ostensibly, to search for evidence of tax evasion.

Granted politicians of whatever inclination are not exempted from the law and MRA’s action seen singularly appears a normal and legal operation. Holistically, though, Kamlepo’s raid followed a pattern where government critics, in whatever walk of life, are being targeted by the government machinery.

We have seen it happen at media houses perceived as critical of government with revenue collectors, regulators or State-owned utility companies also being used to ‘squeeze’ these unruly players of our democracy.

Even a political scientist, Boniface Dulani, had his office sealed by MRA. An office of another outspoken critic of government, the spokesperson of the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) Father Peter Mulomole was simply raided by ‘common’ thugs.

We have seen our overworked police and courts being abused loaded further with useless criminal cases such as someone offering a fake resignation letter of a vice-president.

And when among those arrested is a sister of a former president with a deep feud with the incumbent President, we know our police and courts are being used by those irresponsible enough to use power to silence opponents by all means possible.

You don’t have to be TB Joshua to know this, but many more will follow this list.

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