I was surprised to hear that President Peter Mutharika of Malawi was visiting the jail cell spent time in when he was arrested in March 2013. According to media reports, the visit is meant to highlight Mutharika’s philosophy that no one in Malawi will be arrested on political grounds. That prisons should not be detention centres for punishment; rather that prisons should be places of reformation and rehabilitation.
This sounds commendable on the face of it, until you look at the fine print.
Firstly, who foots the bill for the trip? And how much of tax payers money was spent on this? Are we not in Joyce Banda’s 100 days celebration territory here? I’m not convinced.
If Peter Mutharika really wanted to help the political situation in Malawi, he would have fronted a bi-partisan (tri-partisan ?) legislative effort to ensure that ‘that no one in Malawi will be arrested on political grounds’. That would have been a better start because with the current economic situation, I doubt it is wise to get ministers and the entire DPP party to some rural area to paint some prison. I wonder how much money would have been saved if Mutharika stayed at home? At Sanjika Palace, possibly contemplating how he would reduce youth unemployment and create jobs for the millions of unemployed Malawians. He could have read this blog, at least it would have given him some ideas, on how not to do things? I think it would have.
One commentator, Billy Mayaya, writing on his Facebook profile opined that:
Malawi if facing the biggest economic crisis in its history and we have a crisis of leadership! The commemoration of his stint at Lumbadzi Police Station shows a lack of leadership. Malawians are tired of seeing their hard earned tax going to fluffy events. teachers haven’t been paid; There are no medicines in hospitals and meanwhile our leader is having a party!!!
It is true, most people feel insulted. Many Malawians were detained under the dictatorship of Kamuzu Banda.. Gwanda Chakwamba for example spent 13 years in prison. Machipisa Munthali, 27 long and weary years! Even my own father spent 5 years in prison for speaking out against the Ngwazi. All at a huge cost to their families. Lives wasted by an unnecessary detention.
None of these patriotic men contemplated of or pulled some misguided publicity stunt designed to somehow prop their popularity. None of them, after subsequently being elected to parliament, and serving in various capacities did such a thing. Does that mean that they did not care of the issue of political imprisonment? That they were less patriotic? That somehow they wanted ‘political imprisoning’ to continue? I don’t think so. If anything these men paid a much greater price than any political hardship Mutharika has ever endured.
And just imagine that this stunt comes barely a day after DPP’s secretary general Ecklen Kudontoni told a gathering in Mzuzu that now was time to enjoy the fruits of their hard work, that any CEO’s of a parastatal who does not render their support to DPP would face ‘consequences’…?? Isn’t that a political threat? Intimidation by a member of a governing party?
A government is elected to serve all its people. Not just those who voted for it. Mutharika should stop these childish gimmicks by his lieutenants and implement his plan of rescuing the country from the brink of downfall. There are many of us out here who want Peter Mutharika to succeed. Because if he does succeed, it means Malawi will do well. That’s the wish of every Malawian. But why should people be silent when the government is getting things wrong. Achewa anati wakusina khutu ndi mnansi.