Government hides the truth

If you go to one demonstration and then go home, that's something, but the people in power can live with that. What they can't live with is sustained pressure that keeps building, organisations that keep doing things, people that keep learning lessons from the last time and doing it better the next time.
Noam Chomsky

Power is a drug on which the politicians are hooked. They buy it from the voters, using the voters' own money.
Peter Newman


The Mhlako Triumvirate

Friday, February 4, 2011


Once again our Police broke up a public meeting this time in Ntchisi stating that it was illegal. But we know better. They broke it up because it was pro elected Vice President Joyce Banda who is garnering support for a possible 2014 Presidential bid contrary to the apparent desire of our incumbent. He is forcing younger brother Peter down the throats of the people and foisting him on the compliant members of the UDP (oops! U = Undemocratic but the real name is D = democratic for Democratic People's Party [DPP]). But, didn't I hear on the radio a report that the Police said that Callista, the 'First Lady' - a title that has no legal status - would be holding a meeting the following day in the same place? Do you think that Peter is the only favourite? Do we see Callista emerging as a rival to Peter in 2014? You can read more here

When, in 1994, Malawi changed from a one-party dictatorship to its present so-called democratic dispensation the British Government jumped in immediately with an offer to assist in reforming the Police from a FORCE for oppression to a SERVICE that would act as friends and protectors of the people. Not many of us could discern the difference during the Muluzi Presidency. Thugs were allowed to terrorise opponents without Police action. The Police brutally broke up demonstrations and lawful assemblies (see my photo at the top of this blog) in spite of the fact that the High Court time and again confirmed the constitutional right to demonstrate 'peacefully and unarmed.'

When Mutharika assumed the reins of power many things did change for the better - including the Police. Police vehicles were kept clean and better maintained. Many of the newly recruited Policeman evinced higher levels of education and a better application of the law as well as a higher degree of courtesy towards the general public - if not towards the criminals. The criminal gangs that had terrorised the cities with apparent impunity were generally cleaned up and Malawi earned its 'High State of Peace' rankings. In spite of the current outcry about violent criminals by the business community, Malawi fares much better in comparison with most states in Africa. And for that we must praise the Police. But all that good work is easily undone. All the good money spent by the British tapayer can go to waste. Why?

They never became de-politicised. At first not so evident, it is becoming more so during Mutharika's second term. Let no one doubt that this President and his Government is hell-bent on terrorising the populace into fearful submission before the 2014 elections. We have had a number of oppressive and restrictive laws passed by our compliant parliament. No need to enumerate them here.And if we do not want to vote for his hand-picked successor how will we be able to trust an Electoral Commission which, I am willing to bet, will not be independant? Just look what is happening now. Financial problems at the NEC have been known for years but nothing was done about it. Closure was very convenient for a government that wants to deny its people proper representation.

The Constitution is clear. The Police (I hesitate to use the word 'Service') should be an independant organ of the Executive. Even though the Inspector General of Police is appointed by the President he may only be removed for the legitimate reasons as laid down in the Constitution. The history of the post, however, is that IGs have been removed at the whim of the President and it would be a brave IG who took an independant line. The problem here lies both with Parliament and the people because neither will stand up to defend senior government officials who are summarily dismissed! Until society presses hard it will be difficult for the IG to act strictly in accordance with the law and the Constitution.

As long as the Police are seen to be acting to opress legitimate dissent they will be seen as politically motivated. They will not have the wholehearted support of the people. They will find it more and more difficult to perform their core duties effectively. As an example of how the Police react at the insistance of even minor political personages, remember the unfortunate case of the 4GS guards in Lilongwe accused of 'insulting the President'. They were only released on bail by the intervention of human rights activists who arranged for a defense counsel. Otherwise they would be rotting in gaol already. Read more

As the old song went when Malawians were protesting against British rule: "Chisoni aPolisis". What has changed?


  1. The police in Malawi are underpayed, understaffed and underequipped. If the whole Malawi can stage a demo, who are these dogs to stop us. Lets do it

  2. Watch this space! Pay has got nothing to do with the culture of 'supporting the Government of the day' but does show up just how centralised power becomes in Malawi when we allow the President to dismiss OUR servants (Inspectors General, DPP, Ombudsman or whatever). There is no protection from the populalation for those who are brave enough to 'upset' the president and do what the law or the job demands of them. But when you have a Saviour why do we need the law?