There was an error in this gadget

Monday, March 17, 2014

Violence has no place in our democracy

Once upon a time,we all looked at United Democratic Front as a party of terror. Stories of late Luke Hara's Mercedes targeting Brown Mpinganjira, of Gwanda Chakuamba and Dr. Hetherwick Ntaba running for their dear lives in Kasungu, of late Chief Wimbe taught a few lessons by notorious Zimba, the story of Sheikh Bugidad a target of then Jangiya. The list of violence was never ending. Everyday, a new democratic Malawi saw fear replacing openness and darkness slowly descending that people no longer trusted their politicians, political systems and resorted to silence.
In 2005, on 5th February exactly President Bingu wa Mutharika ditched the UDF, every Malawian celebrated the same. The majority thought the UDF had provided enough lessons to what not to do in a democracy.
When UDF partnered with MCP in the 2009 General elections, it was the "party of rapists and murderers joining the party of death and darkness" according to the late Chakufwa Chihana in 1993. People resorted to DPP fearing the worst of the two parties.
DPP won with one of the overwhelming majority, across tribal, regional or any political power base. Malawians of all walks of life rose above petty splits and gave President Bingu wa Mutharika a vote of confidence to continue his development agenda.
Immediately the second term started, by July 2010, exactly 10 years when Muluzis rule in October 2001 had started detoriating, Malawians were in for a shock.
The list is endless.
The flag was redesigned by one person and shoved across our throats, proclaiming we had developed beyond recognition with  the three buildings in Lilongwe. Section 46 restricting press freedom was hurried. Spooky stories of ghosts at State House saw Journalists arrested.
Then violence began.
Zodiak Station vehicle was burnt, so too were Undule Mwakasungula's offices, yes of course the house of Reverend Sembereka at Balaka, add that to the office of Rafik Hajat's Institute of Policy Interaction in Blantyre.
Journalists were openly intimidates at airports that Mike Chipalasa of BNL had to be accorded State Security after a presidential press conference, then Vice President Joyce Banda came face to face with fatal accident at Kanengo when a mysterious lorry hit her official mercedes benz.
Threats of street fight, proclamations of tit for tat and abuse of Malawi Police Service for political purposes was rife. At one point the Malawi Defence Force was dragged into politics sending them to Mulanje to stop former President Bakili Muluzi from addressing a rally.
Nothing could stop the DPP from holding on to power. Being a journalist everyday meant living in fear, sleeping at different locations. One colleague Phillip Pemba received a direct call of his houses whereabouts in Chilinde. The poor young man black as I am went white as blood drained out his brain.
Then Malawians got tired of the system and took to the streets. of course some of the loud mouths in town went into hiding, many simply failed to come.
But at Biwi, on July 20, 2011, perhaps Malawi's most violent day in our democracy, I came face to face with a group of at least 3,000 young people. Singing "achoke" and telling everyone within their ear shot, time had come for Malawians to be respected not used as slaves.
The Government response against its own citizens was brutal. We counted 21 dead bodies and many still live with bullets as there is nobody to send them for specialist removal of the life scars. The most painful story from July 20, was not my beating, or the hacking not by people but by Malawi Police Service of peaceful people we had gathered at Lilongwe CCAP and my two colleagues Amos Gumulira and Isaac Kambwiri were hacked by law enforcers. But that is not the story.
The story is that of a young boy Ishmael of Lumbadzi about 11 years, who was at his fathers gardern watering vegetables. When he heard riots, his first instinct was to run back home. He run but he had to cross the main Lumbadzi-Mponela road. He still lives with the bullet and disabled. A gift from President Bingu wa Mutharika and the Malawi Police Force. Nobody remembers this boy and all politicians that pledged mountains to him are yet to deliver anything.
Every morning, this young boy wakes up with a bullet, every pain that comes with it is a reminder that DPP given power is a disaster not to politics, but to even young boys who had nothing to do with politics.
After 20 July, early September morning of the same year, Robert Chasowa who had made deals with several people was found dead. Killed in cold blood, his sin was to speak and be suspected of spreading documents that people never wanted the public to know. Afterwards UDF Presidential candidate Atupele Muluzi's convoy was waylaid and stonned in Thyolo after Bvumbwe area.
The same yesterday 16th March 2014 happened.
Two lives were taken away, one policeman and another citizen. They had a right to life as much as anyone in Malawi.
Peoples will try to find excuses. But something is wrong with the DPP and the party needs to find a formulae to disassociate itself from violence.
Five days to the incident, DPP President candidate Professor Peter Mutharika addressed a rally at Songani in the constituency and home of President Joyce Banda. Nothing happened to his rally or troupes of supporters.
Democracy and Human Rights record of Joyce Banda are rare among our four Presidents so far. She has demonstrated capacity of tolerance not seen a long time in Malawi. Fear today has evaporated that people can call and attack President names. Neither does the ruling party have a monopoly of venues for campaign.
At least this campaign we thought we finally were seeing a tolerant system to democracy.
Not until people had to be killed in the name of politics.
Its time for DPP to purge within its ranks violence perpetrators or the party brings back memories of July 20, Robert Chasowa and adding to its list Superintendent Julius and his colleague.
Parties that kill whether in or outside power should be banned from Malawi, magazi sazoloweleka!

No comments: