Beware: Citizen is back

We are back from Chikoko Village, where we enjoyed the sunshine. We are back essentially because we do not like police sirens and convoys. To us a siren is a sign of danger. And to see old people playing around with signs of dangers, like toys, irks us.  So, we are back. Let them have the whole Chikoko Village to themselves.

As we scaled and meandered through the Khwekhwelele escarpment in our new Nissan Savala on our way to Lilongwe, we reflected on our country in this century.

Once upon a time, politicians thought they could steal with impunity and still get ululated at. There was a time, politicians thought they could cheat and still get smiled at. There was a time, politicians thought they could absent themselves from their constituencies and still get elected. There was a time, politicians thought they could whip up tribal sentiments and get elected.  There was a time, politicians thought they could steal elections and still rule in peace and mock the very people whose votes had been stolen. 

There was a time, chiefs thought their word was law and people followed without question. There was a time when pastors, reverends, imams, muftis and voodoo practitioners claimed to speak on behalf of and represent God.  There was a time, the police were feared.

Well times change. And the citizens come back.  Every 20 to 30 years, a new citizen comes to occupy space, the land, and the seat. The new citizen comes with a new thinking and approaches to life.  The citizen of the days dies and gets buried. 

In the new Malawi, the passive zombie citizen is dead although remnants of the species still do exist.  As more and more get educated and literate in human rights, Malawi getting peopled by active citizens. The active citizens of the 20th century anno domini pale and are nothing in the face of the active citizens of this 21st heavily networked citizen.

The citizen of the yester century could keep quiet even when aggressed and abused. Women of yester years could get abused and raped and yet keep quiet till their death. But, the citizen of the present century is weaponised. The women of this century are not cowards and cannot accept that they are inferior citizens.   The Me-Too movement has seen the women hitherto abused by the powerful and moneyed rise up and challenge their status quo. And the hitherto giants are tumbling one by one: Robert Kelly, Chris Brown, Harvey Weinstein and soon, just wait, it will be Yahyah Jammeh, former president of the Gambia. No abusing man is immune. 

For the first time in the history of Malawi a presidential election case is being taken seriously and the citizens are vigilant and prepared to defend their vote. In past elections, the winner, genuine or fake, was assured of security of tenure a soon as the swearing-in ceremony was conducted.  Things are now different. The courts too seem prepared to ensure democracy is entrenched.

While the presidential elections case is in the constitutional court, other contested polls, for MPs and Councillors, are being heard in the courts throughout Malawi.  Wait for the judgments and see who really is your MP or Councillor.

Parliamentarians meeting in Lilongwe should remember that their constituents are watching them. If the MPs do not fulfil their three roles, particularly the oversight one, the voters, the active citizens have a knife under the mat for them.

The new citizen, not the media or politicians, is today’s real opposition to abuse and theft of public resources and she is ready to provide the necessary checks on the performance of politicians and public service providers, religious and traditional leaders.  Just wait. The citizen is back. The new citizen is daring. He can even deface and remove the once-upon-a-time dreaded protected flags, emblems and names in front of the baton-wielding police. If you don’t believe us, go and ask at Bvumbwe Police Roadblock. n

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