Make Malawi safe again

Hon. Folks, it’s a fact that persons with albinism aren’t safe in Malawi, the only place God gave them to call home. They are being hunted like game and killed for their body parts. It should therefore be understandable why they are anxious to be rescued from us, their fellow Malawians.

It should also be understandable why they’re talking about holding a vigil in the precinct of the State House, the abode of their President who also is the Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces. At least they’d be assured of security there provided by the Army, the police or the cadets all of whom are at APM’s beck and call.

Which is why, Nicholas Dausi, the Minister of Homeland Security, should’ve treated their sensitive case with empathy.  Instead, he’s offended the genteel sensibilities of Apam which has pulled out of the Presidential Taskforce on Persons with Albinism in protest and the quasi-religious body, Public Affairs Committee.  Now the call is for Dausi to resign.

As Minister of Homeland Security, Dausi should’ve been addressing security matters, explaining how government is tackling the issue, advising on what roles citizens can play to complement government efforts and generally tame anxieties with assurances that the matter is receiving government’s utmost attention.

But that’s harder than playing the political card, I guess, fighting with the leadership of Apam (Association of People with Albinism) which Dausi unjustly accuses of politicising the issue.  

 When Apam president Overstone Kondowe interfaced with Vice-President Saulos Chilima or leader of opposition Lazarus Chakwera, it’s not the position of running mate or any political favours he was seeking. Rather, he was appealing to them too to help protect the lives of people with albinism.

I understand Kondowe was also to meet PP president Joyce Banda and other political and civic leaders. It’s also on record that Kondowe has consulted high level diplomats, including US ambassador, over the same issue.

Apam isn’t a political group jostling for space in the sun after the May 21 Tripartite Elections. Rather, it represents people—warm-blooded human beings created in the image of God like us all—who are being butchered mercilessly by fellow Malawians.

To my privileged friend, Dausi and his colleagues in Cabinet, I’ll ask this simple question: there are game rangers to protect elephants from getting killed for their tusks, who’s there to protect persons with albinism from getting killed for their body parts?

I understand there’s a National Action Plan on Persons with Albinism launched last year the implementation of which requires the support of all law-abiding citizens. That’s the way to go but where is the leadership to pull that one off if government is so petty as to pick up fights with everyone else it should’ve been working with including Apam itself?   Why the insecurities?

The world noted an upsurge in abductions and killings of people with albinism in Malawi after 2015 when the leadership of Tanzania—hitherto the epicentre of such persecutions–took drastic measures against the perpetrators of such heinous crime in that country.

Consequently, abductions and killings as well as desecration of graves for people with albinism in Tanzania reportedly declined significantly. Interestingly, the crime’s epicentre  shifted  southwards into Malawi where criminals, emboldened by  low risks they encounter when they embark on their killing spree, have upped the ante with time, invading our communities and, if need be, hunt the helpless victims from door to door like mice until they get and kill them on the spot or take them away alive to some convenient dark isolated place.

Some people, including very close family members of victims have been arrested in connection with the killings but very little is known about  the crime. Who is behind it? Where is the market for the body parts and why aren’t there efforts to bust it? If at all innocent people killed in Malawi are exported to satisfy demand for body parts abroad, why can’t government seek the help of Interpol and other Sadc /Comesa member states to track down the criminals and bring them to book?

But most urgent is the need for government to work together with its citizens to protect people with albinism in our communities. Let’s sit together—government, the opposition, NGOs, traditional leaders, herbalists, the youth, etc,–and explore more effective ways that the police can work with communities to make Malawi safe again for people with albinism.

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