Undemocratic

 

The recent redeployment of Medi from head of immigration to general police services highlights a worrying anti democratic tendency in our government: no accountability on important issues. Was his leadership not effective? Was the immigration department corrupt, and was he not capable of improving it? Was he himself corrupt? Or was he not capable of processing passports at a reasonable speed? Or was it maybe that he was open to the population (!) about the challenges at the immigration department? The population is left in the dark.

liberal2bdemocracyWhat we need to keep in mind is that democracy means rule-by-the-people. The people are the boss, and they have employed Mutharika to oversee the running of the country for five years (or shorter if he is impeached). The people are the boss and the president is the employee.

We have also elected a Parliament that should not only make laws (the Legislative) but also oversee the Executive, and hold it to account. The recent refusal of the President to appear in Parliament to account for his actions shows again that the President does not obey the democratic, constitutional order of democracy. The employee needs to account for his actions to the employer.

In this case, and even in the more important case of a cabinet reshuffle, the least the President can do is to consult with the people on any important decision. Now the President acts like he is in the one-party era, where the President was a dictator who dictated the nation and anyone who talked back was deemed meat for the crocodiles. This has changed, and our President needs to account for his actions.r835853_7748839

The President swore at his inauguration that he would uphold and defend the constitution, but in his actions the President shows disdain for the democratic order and lack of respect for his employer: the Malawian people.

Do we need mass demonstrations again?

 

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What is this levy on education?

Our President declared that he is to introduce a “levy” on higher education in our beautiful country. He did this tembo-last-journeyafter giving an honorary degree for “leadership” to John Tembo, the man who ruled Malawi with an iron fist when previous dictator Kamuzu Banda had become incapacitated due to advanced age. Under Tembo’s leadership the “Mwanza Four” politicians were murdered, but his involvement has never been proven in a court of law. However this does not clear him of the responsibility to guarantee safety for the country’s inhabitants, including opposition politicians. This honorary degree was recently also awarded to the first lady for having led the “Beautify Malawi Trust” for a year. The value of this type of honorary degree has been eroded by this kind of lighthearted award to ruling class people.

Back to the education ‘levy”

taxhookWhat does this mean? Who is going to have to pay even more taxes for the meager services that our incapacitated government gives us? Is this an extra tax (on top of the overtaxing that our government commits) for peole with an academic degree? A degree from Malawian public universities? Or also from private and/or foreign universities? Or is this “levy” going to be pushed on an already overtaxed private sector that is struggling to survive in an unfriendly business climate caused by hostile government policies? Or is this levy going to be hefted onto the students, who are being robbed of their rights bit by bit already? Unclear, so there is no way we can understand what his Excellency, the State President, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika (all protocol observed) is saying. A Presidential smokescreen again?

NO SPY MACHINE!

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Bail has been extended for the suspects of treason or sedition or something unclear: Jessie Kabwila, Peter Chankhwantha and Ulemu Msungama, all opposition politicians. The arrests were illegal in any case (why is the IG still in position? If he knew he acted illegally, which is not acceptable. If he did not know he cannot control his staff to work inside the law which makes him incompetent, which is not acceptable either. The man should have been removed from his post immediately.) because when Parliament is in session Parliamentarians cannot be arrested on any suspicion.

The three were suspected of some crime because of a Whatsapp conversation which the police (? Or another executive organization?) broke into. I will not go into the legal hairsplitting of this case, it is clear that the arrests were illegal.

swp_big_2Just imagine: three politicians are illegally arrested on a case that appears to be going nowhere. The only “evidence” available is this Whatsapp conversation. When the police (or any security agency) gets access to the Spy Machine, they can break into all our electronic traffic. Anything they find that is as strong as this dppcar-burntWhatsapp conversation can and will be used against you. We will all be arrested within hours!

The Spy Machine is a bad idea, always was a bad idea, and came into the country in the darkest days of Bingu’s decline into dictatorship. Let’s stop the Spy Machine with everything we have, or we are not free in any sense.

The less things change, the more they stay the same.

 

 

We have seen five Presidents in our beautiful country. All of them started with some good ideas, one more than the other. But all of them changed over time in the same direction: more dictatorial, more bad governance, more economic misery, and more hatred for the population.repetition_by_dragon_geek-d5xvjkl

This is not a coincidence, this is a pattern. Something causes this to repeat, even with different Presidents. We should look for constants in the government, to find the cause. Once found, we need to move to remove this cause and then we can build up true democracy, where every citizen is heard, where the interests of all Malawians are being represented, where the country moves forward for all, not for only a few parasites.

The political parties come and go. UDF and Aford are not a force to reckon with any more, and many have disappeared without a trace. But new ones come in: DPP and PP were formed on a purely opportunistic basis, not because of a conviction or an ideology. So the parties are not constant. The people in the parties have some constant to them: many get recycled time and again. They bear a significant responsibility for the mess we are in. But there is one force that gets very little attention, and that keeps itself out of the limelight, while having strong influence: the top civil servants are there for longer than the politicians. They know the issues better than most politicians because of their ling experience, and because the quality of some politicians is very low. The reader knows some, I will not get into the names, or the quality of the President here.

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But those civil servants are the ones who are doing a lot of the legwork: writing bills that go to Parliament, writing policy papers. IN doing so they make a lot of decisions, and they advise politicians day in day out on a myriad of issues.

The top civil servants warrant more interest from the press, so we know more about these excessively powerful people, and we understand better how decisions are taken, and where the policies come from that are imposed upon us.

Bad governance in the adjusted budget

The currently adjusted budget shows where the government priorities are and it does not make us cheerful. They upped the allocation to state residencies (Presidents Palaces) and lowered the allocation to education.

We all know: public education is the driver of social mobility as well as the long term driver fees3of the economy. When only children of rich people can afford decent education, the children of poor people will never get an opportunity to improve their lives. This locks families into eternal poverty. And only the children of the rich get the opportunity to learn the skills needed to float to the top. This way they keep the riches in the family, and the ruling class will not be challenged effectively.

man-reading-newspaper-in-malawi-b2r54xWe see a little of a power struggle now: the middle classes are writing angry columns in the newspapers, like they did under previous mal administration. And the President blows his cool, like previous presidents. The President declares he does not read the papers, just like previous presidents. As if this will impress the papers. The President knows what’s in the papers, otherwise he would have no reason to denounce the29afri_xlm!

The current budget shows that the government does not offer governance. The government system is totally sung free from its reason to exist. It does not govern the nation, it is only concerned with itself: the internal power games have this time given rise to a rise for the department of Peter Mukhito (State Residences) who was the genius who created the academic freedom saga and who picked a fight with Robert Chasowa who was consecutively murdered with involvement of some DPP top brass (read the report) who were never prosecuted. Not when Mukhito was IG of Police, and not after.

malawi-flood4This government is not concerned with the population, it is concerned with its own appearance. The appearance of government is improved when the minister of agriculture and food security ensures us that there is enough food to be secure, even when the rising maize prices tell us otherwise. The appearance of government is improved when the President assures us no citizen will die of hunger even when this is what is happening. The appearance of government is improved when the Presidential palaces are fixed up with banquet halls and such, even when the population has no food. What do we need a banquet hall for when there is not food? But there will be plenty of luxurious food in the state banquet hall. No problem with that if the people banqueting on the banquet in the banquet hall would be doing their job to such an extent that the country is functioning. But people are dying of hunger, the hospitals have not even essential drugs let alone all drugs, the schools have a terrible shortage of teachers, while there are trained teachers out of work. And our children can only get an education in expensive private schools while the government creates an inflation that undermines our income to the extent that we are having trouble meeting essential expenses like thee school fees for our children.

So the government system is dysfunctional (to the extent that they are not even producing audited accounts, which means that your and mine tax money can be stolen with impunity). IN a democracy we could elect a different government party to change the way things are run. But the problem is: all parties have the same philosophy: conservatism, which means conserve what is there, which means let the government system rot as it has been rotting since 1994.

The government basically does nothing other than concern itself with itself. Until they feel deaththeir power is under threat. Than they pull off their masks and forget about the niceties like the law. Even within the ruling class they will illegally arrest opposition politicians. And if the population dares to exercise its right to expression and its right to assembly by demonstrating, then the police IG (then Mukhito) does not take responsibility for the police actions, but sits in a hall listening to a long winded “public lecture” while he lets his police officers without leadership kill the unarmed demonstrators.

The government does nothing for the country, and has no limits in its ways to hold on to power. What do we do? A palace revolution as proposed by Z Allan Ntata is not the solution: it would only bring to power another part of the conservative ruling class. Remember that Mr Ntata himself was Presidential Advisor on Legal Matters during the time Bingu bulldozed the Bad Laws through parliament. Mr Ntata stayed on. He lost his credibility as afar as good governance is concerned.

We need opposition from outside the political system. Maybe CSOs can do something, maybe we need to self organize. We need non-violent resistance, like I wrote before: