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

Monday, March 21, 2011


Now we know it. The Malawi Police Force is Bingu’s private army. Our President appears to be both paranoid and delusional - what a dangerous combination. It is perhaps fortunate that the people of Malawi do not share his delusions.
The delusion is that the power of the president is limitless; that his word is law.
 He is paranoid because he sees enemies everywhere. What he overlooks is the fact that his own actions have made enemies of his former friendsand supporters .
And the latest indications of delusion came from his lips – once again! As reported in the Sunday Times of March 20 at a ceremony to open a new factory he said:
“Once again, let me repeat that the Inspector General works for the Government and I am the Commander in Chief of Police.  If you ask the Inspector General to apologise, you are asking me, the President, to apologise. I want you Malawians to reflect on this: Can a president apologise to an NGO or a university lecturer? What kind of a country is that?”
Mr. President, when people make mistakes, it is expected of them that they will apologise. When public officials, such as the Inspector General of Police, make mistakes it is imperative for the continuance of public confidence in them and their organisation that they not only to apologise for the mistake but also  assure the public or the offended parties that there will be no repeat of the mistake.
You ask what sort of a country is it that demands an apology from a president. Simple – it is the country that we envisaged when we removed the dictatorship of Dr. Banda and his cruel party and state apparatus of oppression - the type of country that we defined in our Constitution.
You are mistaken, Mr. President, to believe that you are Commander-in-Chief of the Police Force (now misnamed ‘Service’). Mr. President, you swore  falsely on the Holy Bible when you took the oath of office. Had you really intended to defend and protect the Constitution you would have noted that the Police is constituted as an “… independent organ of the executive..” The Constitution is to be interpreted in a simple manner. It is clear that the executive has no part to play in its OPERATIONS as defined in Section 153.  And – here’s something that you may not be aware of – there is no mention of a Commander-in-Chief. And you do not have the power to appoint yourself to the non-existent post.
Your reference to a Commander-in-Chief was a Freudian slip. You were obviously confusing the Police with the Army where you are constituted in that capacity. Your error is excusable because both you and your predecessor have suborned the Police Force and turned it into a private army of oppression.
The Police are the second of our constitutionally independent bodies to have been emasculated, the other being the Electoral Commission whose closure is a continuing crime.
Let me remind you, Mr. President, that the presidency operates under very strict constitutional controls. Your word is not law. Your recent pronouncements on things such as pre-conditions for demonstrations are illegal. Laws and regulations have to be effected by due process. Anything that requires your direction has to be formalised by your signature over the official seal. Let us see the paperwork.
At the same ceremony, you are reported to have said that you were waiting for Malawi human rights activists to return from the United Nations, where they went to petition the UN to take action against you and those close to you, so that they should ‘explain’ to you the contents of the petition. Is that the sort of explanation that Mukhito demanded of Blessings Chinsinga? Are you about to repeat the same inexcusable error? Mr. President, no-one need to explain anything to you.Their petition has already been made public. If you missed it, your intelligence service should have it on record or you could ask our representative at the United Nations to brief you. What other explanation could you expect? Or do you want to berate them in one of your famous 'listening' meetings?
What they have done is part of the process of:-
You are accountable to us. We are not accountable to you. We are accountable to the law. Otherwise we are free to conduct our lives in any way we wish without interference from the executive.
You must account to us. Can you explain your apparent sudden rise to wealth? Will you take us on a tour of Ndata Farm?  Can you explain to us how the businesses of those close to you have grown so miraculously? Has a state-owned bank overstretched itself to be accommodating? 
When Malawi chose a multi-party and democratic system it was not like rival supporters of Premiership football teams putting in power their favoured team and the paying scarce money at the gate to watch the players earn K40m per week. But that is what it seems like. Both you and your predecessor wasted no time in embarking on lavish personal housing projects. And we are sitting like the paying spectators expected to cheer you on! We are waiting to find out how your predecessor did it. But would like to know right now how you are managing. Please be kind enough to reassure us that our assets are safe in your hands.
In your paranoia you have been calling out our development partners for undermining your presidency. They are the same partners who assisted our nascent democracy. They are the same partners who are helping us to strengthen that democracy. Now that you have demonstrated to civil society and our development partners that you have no concern for our democracy, for constitutionality or the rule of law, we are happy to learn that those same partners have now resolved to make more funds available to civil society to protect and strengthen our democracy.
The squeeze is on. Civil society, the churches and development partners are putting on the pressure. Eventually, you will be unable to resist. Why is it that dictators believe that they are immune to the inevitable?
I urge you, Mr. President, to sit back and reflect seriously on the path that you have chosen. 
There is time for you to reform and deliver to the owners the nation trhat you promised.

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