There were ugly scenes a week ago in Lilongwe when some overzealous Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) youth cadets harassed and blocked Patricia Kaliati from entering Parliament where President Peter Mutharika was due to present the State of the Nation Address (Sona).
The DPP cadets, known for their daylight panga-wielding, did not stop at harassing a duly-elected and loyal member of their party, but also manhandled a Times Media Group cameraman, whose only crime according to the cadets, was him doing his job of informing the nation of what is happening in Malawi.
The chaos that ensued in the House in full view of the President was a testimony to the unruly and ungovernable tendencies prevalent in the DPP—the party to this day has not explicitly reprimanded the cadets and the President’s vague warning to deal with “all anarchists” doesn’t help matters—one would be excused for thinking that the cadets got the blessings of their leaders. I wouldn’t be surprised.
Despite outpouring condemnation from Malawians within and without, to this day, the police have not arrested anyone. All they are saying is that they are “following the issue with keen interest”. This might as well mean the police are not doing anything at all. What many are calling for is not the law enforcers to “follow” the issue, but to bring the culprits to book.
In the midst of all the chaos that happened on that ‘day of shame’, is the picture of women clad in DPP regalia, ridiculing Kaliati as she walked past them. One picture that has gone viral on social media shows a DPP woman pointing a finger at Kaliati as other women, also in DPP cloth, looked on, probably cheering her for ridiculing Kaliati who looked unmoved by the incident. Apparently, they are against Kaliati’s support for Vice-President Saulos Chilima’s candidature.
It is a sad picture that depicts and reflects how some women are at the forefront of pulling down fell women. One would expect that after weathering the cadets storm, these DPP women would have protected their fellow woman from the ferocious cadets, but no, they were busy fanning the fire and calling her names as they poured insults at her.
The DPP women’s league should have condemned this, but, they, too, just like the police and DPP leadership, are probably ‘following the issue with keen interest’.
We live in a country where one can be beaten in full view of the police and the police will not apprehend anyone, especially where it is the party in government that is harassing people. They are treated with kids’ gloves.
What happened at Parliament is worrying because it has a potential of scaring away women from taking part in politics, and also from voicing out their views on issues that affect them for fear of being ridiculed.
This is the year that there is more talk about increasing women participation in politics—many organisations are actually campaigning that more women should take part in next year’s tripartite elections.
The first constituents for women should be fellow women—sisters supporting each other and not bringing each other down and being petty or resentful.