I find it particularly absurd to learn that there is something that looks like a presidential and exclusive nature of a convoy and no one, other than the President, can jump into a chopper and move from point A to B. If you have not been following this issue, the background is that people like Peter Mutharika have been campaigning from an open vehicle and the Democratic Progressive Party has purchased helicopters that they would like to use, among other things, in campaigning.
Now the police say that to travel using a helicopter is illegal and an open-roof vehicle is not allowed in this country and more over, a convoy with motorcyclists is the preserve of the President. Anyone who dare enjoy such exclusive privileges will be guilty of offences and punishable by incarceration. My assessment is that such laws, if they exist, are absurd and not fit to the 21st century. And I will explain why below.
We can argue, but many people would recognise the Mutharika dictatorship as one of the worst the country has ever experienced. Interestingly, Mutharika did not ban or use any of these laws that prohibit an individual from travelling or campaigning from an open-roof vehicle. Bakili Muluzi, in the early days of Mutharika regime, used to have his whistle stopovers. Mutharika did not allow all whistle stop tours but it was not the type of vehicle that he did not like.
These open-roof vehicles that the police indicate are illegal are a common sight where I live. Every Saturday morning as I go to town, I see convoy after convoy of people coming from just being married enjoying open-roof vehicles and lengthy convoys. Are these also banned? Secondly, note that even at the height of colonialism and the fight for independence, MCP president Dr Hastings Banda used to have the open-roof vehicle without the governor-general and the colonial administration thinking that just by having an open-roofed vehicle that was criminal. I am wondering why Mutharika and the colonialists did not use such laws (if they exist) and now under a (supposedly democratic and liberal president who accepts the rights of gays), we are having such restricting laws/bans pushed to our faces! Moreover, if one is visiting the game and national parks in this country, an open-roofed vehicle may be used.
That no one should use a helicopter other than a president is both sad and retrogressive. Does it make sense to you that in a country where you have put tourism and mining as some of the pillars of the Economic Recovery Programme you would ban helicopters? What sort of tourism do we want to develop where private helicopter travel is banned? What sort of mining do we want to have when the mining companies cannot travel by helicopter?
People who have never been presidents have travelled using helicopters in this country. When Collins Chizumila died, his son Collins Chizumila Junior accompanied the body up north in a helicopter. Gwanda Chakuamba used the helicopter to travel to Thekerani in 1993. Peter Mutharika has used the helicopter to travel up north. Helicopters have been used to transport elections materials to remove areas.