“He who seeks equity,” goes an old maxim, “must come with clean hands.” Reminding President Peter Mutharika and his ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of this old wisdom, is both necessary and timely.
Look, folks, the CEO of Malawi Inc. has been flip-flopping a lot on what should constitute acceptable politicking ahead of 2019 elections.
In one breath, he is telling us stories about his rivals in the most disparaging way, and in another, he is complaining that his rivals are attacking him; hence breaking the law.
That Mutharika, a long time American resident and international law scholar, threatens his rivals with arrest, citing archaic laws that have no business servicing a democracy, is scandalous.
This country’s democracy is maturing, and at a pace too fast to accommodate such flirtation with a bygone past—that once jailed people for simply having a different opinion, or strongly having their take on a president. A past that once made a human being answering to the name Hastings Kamuzu Banda, more feared than God.
The democratic dispensation that brought these freedoms, including the right to criticise an elected president, didn’t come here cheaply.
Neither do we owe these freedoms to any single individual. Our freedoms, embedded in our cherished Constitution and part of acceptable norms across the world, were fought for, at a huge cost, by millions of our country men.
As APM rightly notes, facing the Kamuzu Banda tyranny, many paid with their lives. Today, we don’t owe our freedoms to any human being or political party.
So to have a president speaking in the manner APM has done of late, is a stark reminder that the DPP, as a party, often flirts with the same bygone past it so often derides.
Isn’t it ironic, folks, that in the past few weeks, Mutharika has been busy tossing up opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) history of darkness, while simultaneously threatening his rivals with arrests for simply exercising their right to criticise his administration?
Mutharika’s weapon of choice, evoking Section Four of the Constitution, is telling of his party’s dictatorial hangover. That Section is about the protected flags, names and emblems. It’s an archaic law bordering on a hangover to the same MCP misrule.
And guess what, we need to take the President for his word.
For one, DPP’s human rights record is not any flattering. It’s so appalling that we can be rest assured that the President is indeed very capable of using that law to jail his opponents.
The other time this law was evoked, it was another Mutharika [Bingu] who authorised another DPP administration to arrest Kamlepo Kalua for simply calling Bingu aka ka Ngwazi (this small Ngwazi).
Ngwazi is not even an official title. It wasn’t even Bingu’s given name, see how stupid some laws can be!
For a party that has governed for just around 10 years, DPP has so many dead bodies in its wake to be preaching about morality or the sanctity of human life.
The list of DPP’s victims reminds us that, leaving this party to its own devises, it can turn into another murderous dictatorship.
Think of Issa Njauju, Robert Chasowa, the 21 people gunned down during the July 20 demonstrations, then you will get the brief.
That DPP can murder so many in a democratic dispensation; when we have independent media, civil society and a now critical international community no longer inhibited by the cold war policies of accepting rights abuses as long as the country was an ally of the West as it was the case under Kamuzu makes DPP’s mocking of MCP’s record even more hypocritical.
Thank goodness, after some people, including Kalua, were convicted using this law, the Supreme Court overturned such rulings.
That, in law, is called precedence.
By the way, APM has no moral right, either, to complain of critics insulting his office when he himself has been throwing uncouth language, now and then.
His ‘tonne of bricks’, speech is one such illustration. When the president vows to ensure MCP will never rule this country while he is alive, he is cherry-picking facts: He is omitting that his party is full of ex-MCP officials and is partnering a party [UDF] headed by a family with deep roots to the old MCP than Lazarus Chakwera can ever claim!