Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Expectations for 2013

Finally, and as expected, the first rays of 2013 fell on the old stems of today- stems that have begun.

2013- that year which saw Malawi lose a sitting president; a year that saw Malawians become queue-mongers, as they battled for such basic commodities as sugar and salt and tea leaves in stock-depleted shops;a year that saw Malawi totter on the brink of economic collapse, as the Western world turned against a man they once touted: President Bingu wa Mutharika, the late - is now Malawi's new growth point. A point of regenration.

On these growths, new graces and mercies and calls may cling. Indeed, new hopes, wishes, aspirations may be born.

But, as happens in life, in equal measure they may die. Lucky are those who will be able to gracefully transform Malawi's sad lines to happy chords so that, in turn, we may find our appropriations authorised.

Let us not concentrate on faulting those who messed our past by bringing old bones to light. No. Instead, where we dwell, let the echoes die.

Of course, it is good to remember, and remind them, in moments when they want us to believe that we have forgotten of all those incidences we witnessed and saw, of the experiences we live to remember.

Of course, it is difficult to judge historical events as if they were happening for the first time. We can, all the same, just believe that they lie, that those things lie, secure in their decay!

Does this (believing that the old things lie secure in their decay) apply to the January 17 demonstrations being organised by the Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama)? How does it apply, since the demonstrations will be organised to settle old scores- the scores of 2012?

Well, it does not. The economic challenges Cama is talking about; the executive arrogance displayed by President Joyce Banda; the headless press releases being issued by Information Minister Moses Kunkuyu, who is deriding Cama Executive Director, John Kapito, for orchestrating the nationwide demonstrations; the innuendos coming from ruling People's Party officials- the likes of Hophmally Makande and Ken Msonda- are, all, not to blame for Cama's insistence that the demonstrations will go on.

What is at stake- and this is the real matter in the whole saga- is the right of citizens to express themselves in a manner they deem fit- so long as it is peaceful and considerate of other citizens' right to live peacefully and have a free conscious.

That is the issue.

Malawians, heavy at soul, and tired of having the dusk emanating from cruising Presidential convoys and motorcades- convoys and motorcades that have not rested for seven months simply because the Lady-President, Madam Joyce Banda, does not know the meaning of sitting at one place and working in the interest of the nation from morning till evening- dropping back a them, want to express their right to demonstrate by showing how unhappy they are.

There is nothing wrong with that. Remember the way Madam Joyce Banda described former president, the late Mutharika, as a tyrannical leader who butchered his own people, after 20 citizens- whose only crime was to express themselves in a manner condoned by the Republican Constitution- dropped dead in the streets of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu. Some of them died in cold blood, unaware of the violent world around them, as they went about their business. One man- innocent and hopeful as all well-meaning citizens- was shot dead at his shop in Ndirande.

He had, as many times before, went to his tyre-fitting workplace to make ends meet on that 'wrong' day of July 20 and was met, violently so, by a bullet. The Malawi Police Service calls it a stray bullet- as if it came from the back of a duck as dung. But that deadly pellet came from a gun bought and duly registered by the Malawi Police Service.

So, it seems, Madam Joyce Banda might have been justified to name the former president names. Don't they call it name-calling? Madam Joyce Banda even backed the Civil Society Organisations tat planned the demonstrations, rendering her weight to their cause simply because she was a disgruntled Vice-President of the Republic of Malawi.

A Vice-President who was fired from her own party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on allegations that she was setting up parallel party structures along with her Vice-President Khumbo Kachali. Madam Joyce Banda said it was a human right to demonstrate and express oneself.

However, today, the very same Madam Joyce Banda wants to stand on the moral high ground and condemn Cama for organising the demonstrations. This, to say the truth, raises the question: For whom, or to whom, does history speak? To ordinary Malawians who lost their relatives during the July 20 and 21 demonstrations in 2012, or to the Joyce Banda who supported the fatal demonstrations but has now turned the corner, and is against them? Or, will history speak to her hypocrisy?

Now, is it not the very same Madam Joyce Banda who devalued the Kwacha by a whopping 49 percent in June, in the absence of cushioning measures? What is the basis, therefore, of stopping Malawians from demonstrating against the back-breaking negative effects and impact of the Madam Joyce Banda devaluation- sorry, I mean, devaluation of the Malawi Kwacha. Madam Joyce Banda just devalued the Kwacha, leaving Malawians at the mercy of monetary devices.

Malawians have now been forced to face the music, while Madam Joyce Banda eat free food, funded by the shoe-less tax payer, travels freely, without klosing a penny, and uses free State facilities in her frequent local and international travels. That is why Malawians are asking: Is this not hypocrisy? The truth is that we cannot wait for 'history' to grant us the response.

The response will be offered by history's brother: The 'present'! And the present, if we have to go straight to the point, is found in the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi, which backs citizens on peaceful demonstrations. If Madam Joyce Banda and her cronies are against the constitutional right to demonstrate, then, they are no longer upholding the Constitution they vowed to stand by, and for, in good times, and times of ill will.

This is the same Constitution that stipulates, explicitly, that Malawi shall have territorial integrity, and that this integrity should not be tempered with. But look at Tanzania now, and the way Malawians authorities are handling the issue. The Lake Malawi border dispute has been one of the major issues in 2012, and it is the hope of all Malawians that Tanzania will turn back from her bad ways, and abandon her outrageous claim that it owns part of Lake Malawi!

As Malawians hope that they won't be a repeat of the mistakes, miseries, and overload of 2012, the silent wish remains that: Let this unaccountable darkness move away! Let the economy not batter our hard-won freedom, from the confines of the 'deserted' President's office. This President who says she is just volunteering, but get's allowances for doing her juniors' jobs. Was charity this expensive?

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