Malawi: Cold blood of Africa

There have been pictures and clips that have been trending on social media. I was particularly interested in several that were showing Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda, launching a smartphone manufacturing company and another one producing cars. It also showed Kagame laying foundation stone for a mega airport in the country.

In sharp contrast, there was a picture of President Peter Mutharika admiring gondolosi, I learn in English the closest you can get for the aphrodisiac is skeels, during the Mulhako wa Alhomwe. For those towing the anti-Mutharika line, the pictures show the different goals we set for ourselves. While Rwanda, which borrowed our Vision 2020, has focussed on developing the country, we have wasted our years on trivia.

On their part, the ‘blue-eyed’ people have responded: “Go and stay in Rwanda if you think Mutharika is not doing enough.” That is just out of sorts. Too sad.

Getting that you-can-go-and-hang tone, you get the impression that this country belongs to some people more than others. It is downright shameful to look aside when other countries in the region are fostering development while we waste time on trifles. While Rwanda moved from a very violent genocide era, we are slowly denigrating into a land so cold where lawlessness is prevailing.

Just this past week, we saw four people being killed in the fracas between two villages in Nkhata Bay. You can’t even get to the bottom of the issue to wonder how several houses were torched down in the sad turn of events. All of a sudden, we have become too violent as a people. Fishing boats were razed down in Mangochi over witchcraft claims, just imagine.

At Thyolo Secondary School, students ended up razing down buildings for better diet. How that arson can bring better food on the table is beyond our power to fathom.

I need not talk about the ‘heroes’ welcome’ those suspected of stoning a police officer to death got when they returned to Nsundwe. The hooting, whistling and jubilation as they returned to what they are calling ‘Benghazi’ or Nsundwe ‘barracks’ would make the sane flinch and wonder why glorify violence?

You haven’t heard the worst yet. Some police officers unleashed a reign of terror on women and girls at Nsundwe, Mpingu and Mbwatalika in Lilongwe. The law enforcers, abusing their power, desecrated the uniform and forced themselves on the women and girls with all impunity.

It is disheartening to note that one of the women said: “I couldn’t do anything, as I am powerless.”

It is a worry that officers who are supposed to protect citizens become the first to instil fear with such violent acts. These violent acts should not only be condemned, the perpetrators must be brought to book.

Which is why the NGO-Gender Coordinating Network makes sense that Mutharika must order an inquiry on the Nsundwe violence. The demand for the Inspector General to institute an open inquiry on the issue is equally welcome, but I do not support. For that matter, the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) must have its own investigation.

Of these investigations, it is my feel that the MHRC would make more sense. The police has always been known for shielding some of their own when they engage in criminal affairs. We all know how officers involved in the murder of student Robert Chasowa and Anti-corruption Bureau’s Issa Njaunju stagnated.

But then, what is going on at MHRC will leave you shocked. There are piles and piles of work the constitutionally instituted commission is expected to finalise but due to lack of funding, this has not been the case. Further, Mutharika’s failure to hire commissioners recommended by the commission leaves it crippled in one way or the other.

It is most important that Malawi must be seen to stop this spiralling from the Warm Heart of Africa to a cold and heartless dungeon of violence and death.

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