John Tembo in his many quirky answers to the press, when asked by a reporter in 2005 about the "development" by President Bingu wa Mutharika of building a moseluem for the First President Ngwazi Hastings Kamuzu Banda, he quickly retorted a question back to the poor reporter- when you construct a memorial pillar for your loved ones, do you call it development? He asked.
Many thought he was just being political, but to those that suffered under the regime of President Kamuzu Banda, were shocked that even Tembo was not celebrating the misuse of their pain and suffering to reward the departed dictator.
I was reminded of this story this week when I read that the United Democracti Front wants to celebrate June 14 as a Yellow Day. Comments from some Malawians on the Nyasatimes online edition however clearly show how much people misunderstood the intentions of the the former ruling party, the party first democratically elected since Malawi became independent in 1964.
June 14 has a meaning to those that were detained, killed, tortured, chased and those that lost their parents or were denied opportunity by a system of dictatorship that rose after 1964.
June 14 represents, the epitome of struggle and the truimph of good over evil. The symbol of June 14 is a lantern lamp and some of its heroes included the just departed Amunandife Mkumba. This to me is a man who deserves a State Funeral, despite his political side being the opposite of the regime.
Amunandife Mkumba founded and maintained the Malawi Democratic Union, unlike other political leaders today in the system, despite all his four losses in general elections he remianed a principled politician who lived and maintained his party legacy, principles and vision whether it succeeded or not.
Such loyalty is rare in politics to the cause. Others including our own President Bingu wa Mutharika dissolved their parties, jumped shipped more than once like Gwanda Chakuamba while Amunandife Mkumba remained true to himself and maintained the MDU.
If his voice does not qualify him for a State Funeral, then we should not have some of the funny State Funerals we have had in the recent past. I am not obliged to mentioned them.
As Mkumba breathed his past and almost was a non-news item in the major media houses, the question of where our democracy was headed was being raised, with for the first time the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) facing the most internal rebellion since its foundation.
DPP might have done away with Chakuamba, Uladi Mussa and Zikhale Ng'oma, but the politicians in the ruling party cannot do away with the massive rebellion the generation of the young politicians are set to pose this year.
Up to 40 MPs were absent during the voting of the infamlous injunctions bill, many of them openly told me to write that they had opted walking out instead of puting their names to the paper.
Symon Vuwa Kaunda- the Information Minister and Government spokesperson and Dr. Hetherwick Ntaba the Presidential spokesperson might dimiss Henry Duncan Phoya as a lone ambitious man, but behind him, I can say, as I have said about the DPP strategies before, the man is not joking.
There are many looking for exit in DPP and they want the party to get them out officiall, that would be suicidal. If Vuwa Kaunda and Ntaba now christened as two famoues comedians Chindime ndi Samalani, dont want to believe it they should wait for a constitutional amendment.
As long as 40 continue absenting themselves during votes, which is the new way of protesting in DPP, the party can never muster the two thirds required to change some constitutional provisions.
Take that with the reality that is sinking in after the Zero Deficit Budget that we are on the wrong path in our democracy. Our leaders have stopped thinking about the poor but of their bellies.
When it was media freedom being curtailed, some people rejoiced that the Journalists had assumed a know it all attitude, under section 46. When it was Academic Freedom, some said politicians were behind Jessie Kabwila now its a basic right to all Malawians- a right to effective remedy and Justice.
How will the new injunction bill work- imagine the City Assembly wants to demolish your house, you can no longer ask the court for an injunction until Government is heard. This might be to late your House would be long gone and compensation will take years- you have lost your only effective remedy to immediately preserve your house.
Imagine the Police are order by the President to close a newspaper today, it will take three days for you to get remedy as Government wants to be heard.
There are many cases, that will rise and ordinary Malawians will be victimised, not because they are politicians but because some careless and selfish politicians removed their only protection under law.
As Duncan Henry Phoya said- it is a bad law, it takes back Malawi to years back and it should be fought like the battle of 1994.
The only suprise is that when Bingu wa Mutharika reinstutated the name of Kamuzu to the Stadium and Hospital- Malawians clappped hands. When he spent K56 million on Kamuzu's moseleum we all clapped hands louder forgetting those victims who are yet to be compensated by the National compenstaion tribunal which we closed abruptly.
When he forked out another K20 million for that bronze statute of his hero, Malawians lauded Bingu and forgot Kamuzu's victims.
Until he adopted the title Ngwazi of his hero, nobody raised their eyebrows. Now he is behaving like the real Ngwazi who knew bettter, thought on behalf of his people and fed his people, we are all shocked.
Come on, it is the same Ngwazi we have clapped hands while systematically limiting economic participation and bringing closer only those who remain loyal to him.
Today, it is the question of where is our democracy is going to? Henry Phoya has raised the alarms and it is a question of how low will these alarms sound to Malawians that our democracy is in the Intensive Care Unit.
The ressurrection of the Ngwazi, the praise singing in praliament and the imposition of his will including removal of basic right to effective remedy should spur Malawians into thinking of these SIGNS OF THE TIMES.
Phoya and others who stood up for Mother Malawi deserse to be heroes.
May the Soul of Amunandife Mkumba rest in peace knowing that he fought a good battle which people like Phoya are willing to sacrifice their personal lives to speak on behalf of poor Malawians.
Is it not time to start thinking of changing the flag again; I mean why not include fuel and foreign exchange shortages as part of our proud identities in a new and progressive Malawi. A slot on prices going up due to Zero Deficit Budget can also be an honour. This is the curse of telling God you are developed!