Saturday, June 2, 2012

Loti Dzonzi: Best Inspector General in Democratic Malawi

He was not there: When the later-to-be Chancellor College (Chanco) student, Fanikiso Phiri, had this dream to, somehow, weave his way to college someday.
It turned out, later, that the college was Chanco. Chanco the son of Chirunga. Where went Fanikiso, the son of Phiri.
It must have been great.
He was there: When, in 2001, when the madness of power hit the head of former State president, Bakili Muluzi. He was there when the 'dark' pill of excessive power stroke the hands of police officers, prompting them to think no twice, thrice, or whatever number it be, when touching, and then pulling, the catastrophic trigger.
In that incident, when Loti Dzonzi- Malawi's new Inspector General of Police- was there (in the police service) to hear of this, somehow, sad news that, at the pull of a trigger, dreasome Phiri was no more, he could do nothing.
He was powerless. Left and forgotten in the administration blocks of the Malawi Police Service (MPS) headquarters in Area 30, Lilongwe.
He was not there, Dzonzi: When Epiphania Bonjesi, a Chilobwe Township (in Blantyre) girl still in the morning of her life, lost her right to be real (alive).  That was in May 2004.
A stray bullet, from a stray-minded, but duly-employed MPS officer, got the warmth out of Epiphania's hopes, wishes, aspirations, blood, and mind.
She died, Epiphania, there and then. She had no chance to say "Bye, perhaps we shall meet again; perhaps not" to her mum. Or dad, or brothers, or cousins, or grandparents, or friends, or lass teachers, or whoever it be.
She just went on, passing on. The victim of a bullet duly-purchased by MPS, and duly recorded in MPS books.
As it were, MPS will never trace that bullet. If only because that bullet was buried in the jacket of injustice. This jacket (of injustice0, along with the jacket of justice, is a multi-coloured, double-standards MPS forced down the throats of the Malawian people.
Many a people have tried. Many an organisation. Many a donor partner.
You can take the British Department for International Development (DFID) for one. DFID injected more money into MPS than any other institution (local and international). There was an aim, an over-riding goal: To 'reform' the MPS.
But MPS, at least in those days (2001 forward) never 'listened' to medicine. MPS never healed. MPS does not heal.
If it healed, and (if) DFID funds worked, there wouldn't be July 20 and 21, 2011 deaths. 20 people, out to exercise their freedom of assembly and expression in one, died at the stroke of MPS bullets. And the MPS officers got paid for gunning Malawian citizens down. K60, 000 for a job well done.
K60,000 for sending 20 heaven-wise. Transporting, forcibly, 20 towards the blueless skies at the cost of K60,000. Is life that cheap?
The answer to this is hidden in the money MPS officers received, and the whiskey and tonic and gin they gulped afterwards, as if drowning away the pains, the memories of a job 'well done".
As people cried for their sons, daughters, nieces, uncles, aunts, former president Bingu wa Mutharika (now the late; May His Soul Rest in Peace) was busy feasting with Democratic Progressive Party youths (read, Cadets) in the Southern, Central and Northern regions. Those from the Eastern region joined their 'brothers' at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre).
In all cases, Dzonzi was there. But, as in the Phiri and Epiphania cases, Dzonzi was not there when these people were entertaining their little dreams to be whatever they wanted to be one day- dreams they will never be there to realise).
Then, after all these cases, a Polytechnic ( another constituent college of the University of Malawi, just like Chanco) Engineering student, Robert Chasowa, was found lying in a pool of blood on campus. As it later transpired, he was a victim of a conspiracy that President Joyce Banda wants to unravel through a Commission of Inquiry she has just established.
Chasowa, apparently, is just another victim of a conspiracy with police fingers in between. Let the truth be unerthed.
But Dzonzi was there, still. Buried in the dark, dingy administration blocks of MPS in Lilongwe.
All this fuss- of Dzonzi being there, and being there not- is a pointer to one thing: While the new Police Inspector General was there (in the MPS), he was powerless. He could do nothing about it. He was just one of the many juniors of the then Inspectors General of the MPS.
Now, however (see, see!) he is in control.
He will be to blame if anything goes wrong in MPS.
He calls the shots.
But Dzonzi, to say the truth plainly, is Malawi's best Inspector General Police since 1994.
I know Dzonzi, somehow, to call him such,m even before he kills a soul of his own. A soul, I am sure, he will not send heavenwards. He will safeguard human rights.
That is why he has engaged in a bridge-building exercise.
He went to Chinsapo in Lilongwe two weeks ago. Chinsapo is the place where townshippers burnt an entire police unit and chased police officers after the July 20 and 21 skirmishes between members of the general public out to express themselves peacefully, and police officers bent at silencing them with AK 47s, triggers, teargas, and dirty boots.
Just this week, the week we are burying today, Dzonzi was at Chancellor College building bridges. The students were pleased.
All Malawians know that the relationship between Polytechnic plus Chanco students and police has been that of cat and mouse. Countless bullets have scratched innocent tree tops at Chanco and Polytechnic. Many a tear have been shed. Teargas knows no friend.
Lives, too, have been the price at times. Fanikiso shall, forever, be the sad example of police work gone bad.
But Dzonzi want perceptions of police officers as killers 'killed'. He is for the police of the people.
As he said two weeks ago: "For the Malawi Police Service to be successful, we depend on people, citizens. These are the people who give us tips. The people who know crime-doers in their areas".
Dzonzi is the man, so it seems.
I knew Dzonzi, for the first time, in 2002. It was during a Public Affairs Committee meeting at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre.
Dzonzi, as Assistant Commissioner of Police responsible for Administration, presented a paper on the Malawi Police Service. He talked of police-public relations. He dwelled on how important they are. He said the police, without the people, were an empty pocket. I still have his presentation at home.
In that presentation, his words contradicted the actions of police officers of the time- officers who, intoxicated by Muluzi's hunger for more power, shot anyhow, killed at will, and slept peacefully thereafter, as if nothing had happened. People addicted to the wrong things, I can say.
It was a dark era in democratic Malawi, an era presided over by Muluzi. The same Muluzi who, in his quest to get a third, unconstitutional term, got people injured.
Mark Mezalumo, who was then a National Democratic Alliance official, had his eye hacked by a United Democratic Front Young Democrat. He will never have the original one back.
Simply because power corrupted Muluzi's mindset some day. Thanks that he now seems to have changed. But it's all because he is out of power. Let us give him no other chance to be corrupted by power again.
He was impressive. I must say his bass gives him an aura of authority. It was always a puzzle that the other president (Muluzi, Mutharika) never gave this man a change to be Inspector General of Police.
Now is the time. Let him prove his words. Those words well-hidden for ages.
Loti Dzonzi. Live your worth.
It could be that, may be, this is the only point president Banda got right.   

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