MEC is not DPP, DPP ain’t MEC

July 4, 2019

If there is one thing that is so hard to say, it is goodbye. It has been hard for me, for one, to see my colleague Suzgo Khunga bidding farewell not only to those that have worked with her, but even to you dear reader.

For three years, I have followed her entries and I daresay she has informed some of my opinions on certain socio-political and economic hazy areas. Not to mention her able news-writing and insightful reporting skills, which I have been able to follow since 2004 or thereabouts.

Join me in wishing Su or ABC—Assistant Bureau Chief—as we fondly called her in the Nation Publications Limited (NPL) corridors, the best of times at her next call of point. I know of her hard work and determination and it is my hope these are traits that will continue to be part of her being.

I am not a particular fan of long and dreary speeches, but speeches that change humanity, the terse ones, strike deep cords within me. The American President Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address is one of such speeches. In the opening lines, describing the people who fought in the American Civil War, the great Abe said: “The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never be forgotten what they did here.”

In the same way, I dare say, those that have ‘diarised’ the country’s events before me right here, including Su, have made this space quite holy and far beyond my poor power to add or detract anything to and from the discourse.

On Thursday and yesterday, civil society organisations (CSOs) under the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) organised demonstrations calling for Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah to resign. Permission to conduct the demonstrations in various districts was granted.

Prior to the demonstrations, supporters of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) were all over the social media, threatening to disrupt the demonstrations. Come, Thursday, the DPP cadets were indeed up to their word, especially in Blantyre where they were beating up demo proponents.

They even smashed windows for HRDC’s Masauko Thawe’s car. All that, in Ana Adadi reasoning, was a way of ‘defending their DPP May 21 victory’. The cadets also went to town smashing MCP offices in Blantyre to show that demonstrations against the MEC chair do not hold.

What baffled me most is that the cadets went as far as beating up people, including one for simply putting on a red shirt! All that in full view of the police.

It had to take the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldiers to defend those who hand joined the human rights defenders’ cause. A real show of impartiality.

My wonder, this far, is why were the DPP supporters so bent on defending the MEC chair by beating up the protesters? Under contest here was not the legitimacy of President Peter Mutharika, but calling for Ansah’s head. And, for that matter, DPP knows fully well that the demos were organised by HRDC, why then smash party offices?

It is with this same spirit that DPP supporters were all over the place disputing assertions that government had paid K4 billion into an account bearing the name Chief Elections Officer. How DPP supporters found themselves on the defensive on behalf of MEC is so baffling.

The growing tendency by cadets to think that they are more Malawian than anybody else is uncalled for. Their thought that they can beat up anybody who shares opinions contrary to theirs is utterly out of order. To believe that they can beat up innocent people just like that in full view of the police is misguided.

Mutharika had better discipline the cadets as we are living in an era where free thought engenders free opinion and where people are dissatisfied with the status quo, taking to the streets is an option.

As we celebrate 55 years of independence and 26 years of democracy, political bandits have no place in society. We don’t want to relive reigns of terror unleashed by the Malawi Congress Party’s (MCP) youth leaguers, neither do we want the days of the infamous United Democratic Front (UDF) young democrats or those panga-wielding DPP thugs in 2011. n

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