When the President announced that he would submit a new bill to curb harmful traditional practices, the whole Nation was surprised: there was an incident, or systematic practice in Nsanje revealed by the BBC. This may have caused embarrassment to the President. But the suspect was arrested. This was only possible in case there was a law against his practices in place already. His Excellency used to be a law professor, so he is supposed to know this. Even I as a journalist with much less experience know. And we all know there are several laws in place that make harmful traditional practices illegal. Now a number of NGOs have come out, and made clear that the problem is not the legal framework, but the implementation. As in many other cases. We need a directive from the Minister of Justice, that will instruct the police to take cases of harmful traditional practices very serious, to make sure that victims and others who will report are treated with respect, and that all are treated according to the rules of the Victim Support Unit. And on top of that we need a real action plan, with actionable recommendations, to be implemented. This plan obviously needs to be a combination of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) on one hand and repression with the judicial system on the other. Always the interests of the victim need to be priority number one. These interests are not always repression, sometimes, especially when the offender is the provider for the family, other approaches like social work are more appropriate to be in line with the interests of the victim.
Another issue with this President is his step by step descend into dictatorship with the accompanying secrecy: he replaces the Army Commander and demotes him, shortly before his pension. This is his legal prerogative. But any democratically minded leader would give a clear and complete explanation to the People, who after all are His employer. Democracy means People’s Rule. The People rule over the President, and the President is temporarily responsible for the running of the Nation under command of the People. He needs to report to his employer. Now he refuses to do so, all kinds of peculiar conspiracy theories are furthered on web based publications and social media, like: the National Intelligence Bureau has convinced His Excellency that the opposition politicians who were illegally detained in connection with an illegally tapped WattsApp conversation were planning a coup with the army. Another one is that the Army Commander refused to go along with a lucrative corruption scandal. Of course both could also be true. However, the President owes us an explanation!