Honourable Folks, in case you doubt the credentials of Nicholas Dausi, the new head of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), don’t look for answers in the special training he underwent during the Kamuzu Banda regime.
That’s a long time ago when dictators reigned over Malawi and the rest of Africa. In those days you were a rebel worth punishing by killing, maiming or chasing into exile simply for expressing dissenting views or building a magnificent house by the hillside.
Intelligence then—at least in Malawi-—was more about sniffing the boss’s real and perceived enemies and ensuring either they are detained without trial or turned into a sumptuous dinner for crocodiles.
Now we have moved on and what used to be the killer machine for tin-pot dictators must, as of necessity, be changed into weapons for the prevalence of peace and the rule of law without trampling on human rights and the pursuit of happiness for the people of our great Republic.
How Dausi fits the billing as the head of a State agency which, again as of necessity, has to be tech-savvy in this digital age, is beyond me.
Suffice it to say, his conduct during the election time proved to me, he is easily excitable and partisan to boot. Dausi caused drama in Lilongwe where DPP spotted an imaginary vehicle transporting already filled ballot papers to some polling destination apparently for rigging.
Tyres were reportedly deflated and people were harassed yet when the truck was forced open not a single ballot was found! However, the tension created sent hearts pit-a-pat across the length and breadth of Malawi.
In Blantyre, Dausi was in Nyambadwe the other day at a convenient hour of the morning when a pick-up was seen dropping a ballot box, proof for DPP that voter materials were not properly secured after the polling.
It’s an argument they advanced to counter MEC’s decision, after admitting serious irregularities, to ask the courts for more time to recount contents of ballot boxes against doctored figures on many tally sheets
This time fear of rigging was immaterial and Dausi was shooting on all fours, demanding that MEC release the results without delay. Reason: DPP was tipped to win the presidential race!
Every man has a price, so says Robert Bolt in his classic A Man for All Seasons. I guess it’s a deserved pay-cheque for Dausi after his own constituents gave him a very good kick in the teeth when he sought their support in the parliamentary election.
On a more serious note, the APM administration has some difficult policy choices to make in the first 100 days in office. The world, including the majority of Malawians who denied him their votes, are watching how it tackles corruption estimated to deplete from our miserable public coffers 30 percent of its revenue annually.
The easier part of APM’s zero-tolerance for corruption policy would be in dealing with cases arising from the folks currently in government. They can just be suspended or fired before unleashing the law on them. The only risk here would probably be on adding the number of enemies to an already minority government.
APM would probably be the first President in the multiparty era to wage war on corruption without selecting softer targets and make sacred cows of heavyweights whose fall could come with collateral damage to the popularity of the party or the President himself.
But fighting corruption or Cashgate in retrospect can only be a dilemma for APM. As a party, his DPP associates Cashgate with the JB administration. In turn, JB’s PP associates Cashgate with the previous Bingu wa Mutharika’s government.
As Head of State, APM would be expected to deal with Cashgate from a higher, non-partisan platform, bringing to book all culprits and recovering whatever is left of the stolen wealth.
The problem lies in the fact that DPP and PP are a Janus-faced political construct of the President’s brother, the late Bingu wa Mutharika. PP came into government by default after DPP removed the party vice- president Joyce Banda, the only person constitutionally mandated to take the reins of power when Bingu died suddenly in his third year of the second term.
Limiting the probe of any crime, including corruption and Cashgate, to the two-year term of JB, while conveniently ignoring the looting of the Bingu wa Muthatrika era would indeed be witch-hunting of the worst type.