Chaponda, Mutharika and the People of Malawi

We are facing a situation in Malawi: minister Chaponda of agriculture is in a beleaguered state, and refusing to move on, while that would clearly be in the national interest.

Chaponda is citing selective justice, but the wrong way round: he says if he is removed from office for crimes that others got away with, it would be selective justice. But it is not the removal from office that is selective, it is the others getting away with crime, that is the problem. But let us accommodate him: he clearly has information that other duty bearers have committed crimes. Let him come forward, and let us bring all of the suspects to justice.

At the same time, Chaponda staying on is clearly unpatriotic: he is so tarnished by all the accusations that he lost all credibility and there is no way he can function to the advantage of the country. That means he is not suitable for a public position where he is getting paid from our tax money to serve the country. Only for that reason he needs to move on, totally apart from the question if he is guilty or not guilty.

But this is only one incident in a system were justice is applied selectively. A rich person who is suspected of murder against whom there is strong evidence can get out on bail and never hear from the case again. Bu the same token a poor person who cannot afford the money to get out on bail, when suspected of murder can be held on remand for years (illegally) and never hear from the case again, and be in jail indefinitely and illegally. Even when we know there is a strong case against certain influential people (like the Chasowa report revealed) some people are not prosecuted.

In many cases, very many cases, too many cases, positions of power are abused on many levels in our society. A police officer may stop someone at a roadblock and demand a bribe, a government minister may demand a 10% bribe for a project to be approved, someone in the supply chain for drugs may steal, a teacher may abuse a learner or a lecturer a student for good grades, a supply manager may expect a bribe in exchange for an assignment. We all know many examples. And all of this is holding back our development. Minister Kumpalume explained this when the cost for the state-of-the-art cancer treatment centre in Malawi had risen by 400% (!) and counting (!): “When government gets involved, costs multiply.” That is because of corruption, inefficiency, allowance hunting and other types of abuse of a position of power.

In this case we see how a powerful DPP-operative/MP/government-minister gets away with abuse, not because he is cleared, but because he is in a position of power.

Now political commentator Chunga is cited in the Nation as wondering if demonstrations will bear fruit, saying he is yet to appreciate a demonstration that has turned around things. Well, if we had not demonstrated in 1993-94 we would not have any democracy now! This man has a very short memory! He may want to watch the video that I link to on the bottom of this post to see a world-changing demonstration.

Instead his solution is for “agencies to clearly investigate the matter and see that justice prevails.” This would be a good solution, but we all know that it has not worked in Malawi because these agencies take orders from the same people who are abusing the system. What we need is a way to deal with the abuse of power over the whole breadth of society. And that is where People’s Power comes in. If we do not check the abuse of power, we will always remain in our undeveloped situation, and we will always be abused by those in power. We need to confront them, and show our counter-power. All developed countries have gone through these stages: fights for union rights were met with violence, fights for civil rights were met with violence, fights for all our rights are opposed by an advantaged class of people. All that is development towards a developed democratic country. Democracy is not an ideal situation, democracy is a process, and a continuous struggle. Even in developed countries with much stronger protection for the citizen, fights are needed. See how in the USA demonstrations are needed to counter the totalitarian tendencies of Trump. And they book successes: the travel ban has been halted, corrupt people kept out of positions of power or removed even within one month. We should learn from this that democracy is never offered on a silver platter, it is a continuous struggle to gain our civil rights and protect our civil rights from the abusive ruling class. Watch this video called: this is what democracy looks like. (Free to download!)


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