New game of chickens

There is a particularly irritating and irrational way our government responds to national issues while pushing for its own political agenda. If its law that has been broken, the State machinery lets everyone know that it doesn’t care a hoot about ensuring the rule of law, and that the law breakers, whether party cadets or hired hooligans, will go scot-free.

The default line for police and Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), when the crimes were committed by the ruling party’s blue-eyed boys, is to always claim that the law enforcers are “still investigating.” It happens all the time.

Meanwhile, the commander-in-chief and head of State, remains mum as the public calls for justice. Unfortunately for us, our history is ridden with so many presidents with such records that Peter Mutharika, the current occupant of Plot Number One, has a volume of pages for precedence.

Few of our presidents, care about the virtues of the presidency as much as they mind their party leadership. And our parties, to cut everyone the crap, are rogue institutions that seem to sulk everything good about democracy.

This is why we’re in this mess, anyway. Political agendas are superior to the national agenda.

That’s why we’ve spent the last few days, anyway, lamenting what atrocious job we did implementing Vision 2020. In this country, government is the ruling party; and each ruling party, once in power—you can say the same about presidents—cares little about the State of the country but more about the fate of the ruling party. They care little about building a better Malawi, than sustaining their ability to benefit from holding public office, to put it more lightly.

Maybe it’s high time we revisited how our democracy functions but this is how our democracy functions.

Sorry, I digressed. The point here is that it’s no longer surprising to see our government, or our President, championing partisan politics at expense of state business. And one is reminded of this sad reality by the recent spate of actions, or lack off, by our president and his government over New Year.

Following the release of an investigation report by Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) into what happened at Nsundwe during one spate of deadly post-elections riots, the government machinery has deployed a laughable response.

To begin with, MHRC is a State-funded constitutionally instituted organ. There is no question whatsoever about its impartiality over such matters. But when its report revealed a narrative that is different to the State’s political agenda, our government reacted with revulsion to the report.

The gist of the report is that some 17 women (including some under age and one two-month pregnant at the time) were raped by police officers in an orgy of criminality unparalleled in the history of law enforcement in this country.

The incident took place in August, but in wake of the report, instead of jumping to arrest the criminals masquerading as law enforcers, Area 30 scrambled its spin doctors with the tired script of ‘still investigating.’ The same report tackles the brutal and barbaric killing of an innocent police officer Superintendent Usamani Imedi on duty in Nsundwe which prompted the police overkill.

Yet within hours of the killing police rushed to mete out arrests, including arbitrary ones, rounding whole villages of people, day and night, as MHRC previously noted. What then, on God’s earth, is stopping the police from arresting its high libidinous officers who instead of policing, went door after door, insulting, beating, groping and ultimately raping poor helpless villagers.

If our government was half responsible, it could’ve at least pretended to care. But with James Kadadzera of Area 20 paying the lip service, the good Minister of Information, Mark Bottoman, went on attack, attempting, in vain, to discredit the MHRC report. Bottoman’s performance was akin to going after the ball, but the player, claiming, a rather too disingenuously, that MHRC has no commissioners hence the report is not valid. We know that’s a blue lie. MHRC has two commissioners.

But even if it were true, does that take away the fact that our government ought to act with zest and clean up its image, both to Malawians and foreigners by taking action that assures all that it cares about human rights and arrest those responsible? We also know the Mutharika administration has delayed appointment of new MHRC commissioners, so aren’t Bottoman and co shooting themselves by bringing up their own shortcoming?

We all know the answers to these questions. We also know that such actions are just a symptom of a cancer at the heart of our government: carelessness, negligence, indifference to the notion of nation-building and desire to always put partisan and personal interests first. Meanwhile, the President—the commander in chief— is silent. Oh, on New Year he breaks his silence, branding the Human Rights defenders coalition (HRDC) a terrorists group. On his inauguration, he claimed the opposition, without any evidence, were hiring Al Shabab to bomb his victory party. That is how our government—and our president—play the game of chicken, when real criminals go scot-free.

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