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 11, 2011


 The sun rose simultaneously on Blantyre and Cairo on Friday, 11 February 2011. We move through the day in sync with our brothers and sisters in Egypt. Having come out of our own thirty year dictatorship, we sympathise with them in their struggle.

Yesterday was D-Day for the million people in Tahrir Square, Cairo – the Day the Dictator was due to resign. Everyone thought he would, including the President of the USA who must have had very reliable information from the centre of the Mubarak camp. To the surprise of all, he did not resign. In his speech he referred to the people of Egypt as his sons and daughters - this great father figure who does not think that his ‘children’ are mature enough to free themselves from his paternalistic care.He is determined to see out his elected term of office. The people have other ideas.

And today, the Muslim day of prayer, more people than ever are expected in the Square. They threaten that they will advance on the Presidential Palace after mid-day prayers. Mubarak repeated a statement that he had made in an earlier TV appearance to the effect that he had been born in Egypt and would die in Egypt. So far the protests have been peaceful. Who knows how long their forbearance can last? Let us hope that Mubarak and his family do not meet at the hands of the demonstrators the fate of the former dictator of Romania, Ceausescu, and of his wife who were summarily executed.

It is unfortunate that long-serving leaders become cut-off from the reality of mainstream opinion, surrounded as they are, by protective sycophants.

Today is a day of danger. It is a day that should change Egypt forever. It is a day when violence and bloodshed could so easily be the lubricant of change. Here in Malawi, many of us are stuck at home, prisoners of a fuel shortage caused by a misguided and stubborn ruling clique. We will have the leisure to watch the Egyptian drama unfold as the millions move on to the Palace after mid-day prayers. We will have the leisure to reflect on our own situation and to ask ourselves: “Whither Malawi?” as we note the tightening of a dictatorial noose around our necks.

Let us hope that our President and his yes-men are watching and learning the lesson. Better to follow the constitutional order and let the good works of busy hands regain some of the confidence that the people of Malawi showed when they trustingly voted him back into power in 2009. Let him reflect that he is not the Father of the Nation. He is not our Saviour. We are not his children. He is our servant and we pay him to do a job.

The situation in Egypt is now desperate. An assessment by Stratfor Global Intelligence report makes frightening reading.


What am I reading at the moment? I’ve just started on:
 Modern Dictators: Third World Coup Makers, Strongmen, and Populist Tyrants by Barry Rubin
available on-line here

As a postscript to the Romanian saga. Romania’s Communist regime was the most oppressive in Europe. Dr. Banda’s Malawi was seen in the times of the Cold War as a staunch ally of the capitalist West. His regime, too, was oppressive. In spite of the apparent ideological differences, John Tembo, then one of the most feared of Banda’s people, attended many of the Romanian Communist Party’s annual conferences - the same John Tembo who is now warning us of Bingu’s dictatorial tendencies and the dangers of an oppressive regime. How times and circumstances have changed!

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