Monday, March 7, 2011

Pay 2 million before you can demonstrate – Malawi’s president

For anybody who has read George Orwell’s Animal Farm or 1984 and has also been observing the political terrain in Malawi, it’s not very difficult to see that it is now not only a police state, a dictatorship, a one party state but also a fully fledged animal farm.

On Sunday, the 6th of March, the Malawian president held an emergency rally at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre. A lot of critics, one of whom is me, thought the president would take time to explain why there is no forex and fuel in the country, why university lecturers are striking, why activists are saying he is a dictator, why the local elections are not forthcoming and why donors are withholding funds.

To my surprise, and to the surprise of many of you I can argue, the president added more salt to the wounds of the critics by solidifying his iron stance and most shockingly made weird decrees that are likely to see violence and police brutality increase in the country.

“From now on, write this in the laws, nobody should demonstrate before they pay K2, 000,000 minimum in cash. This is to be surety in case they vandalize public property!” boomed the president.

Wait a minute; did the big one just say that? You got to be kidding the constitution!

I don’t need a lawyer to sense the illegality of that statement...even at the UN anybody seeing that statement should choke with horror. 2 million to demonstrate? Is that a move to enrich the police or to block civil society voices?

The president then indirectly called on party members to deal with his critics just like the former regimes UDF and MCP did....stop there...UDF and MCP? So the president was calling for violence?

UDF and MCP party faithfuls used to kill people in the name of loyalty to their leaders; is that what DPP members should do? I think it is, because in agreement the party members at the rally sang: [sagona...sagoona...sagoona ndimpweteka!] a chorus translating as: “they won’t sleep, they won’t sleep ...we will maul them!” Weep Malawi weep.

And the tirades at donors. The president did a good thing to remind Malawians that he is the only one ruling this country and that the donor community should stay far, great stuff. But with my little knowledge of donor money, I know the Washington Consensus never remits aid without conditions, one of which is good governance.

Despite his arguing that the “whites” are happy with governance in the country it doesn’t mean that there is good governance in Malawi, Uganda, under Idi Amin used to have similar comments from the Britons until the nation became a gaol.

I’m also very shocked at the presidents’ lack of knowledge in media effects despite him boasting that he has journalistic training in his bag. The people that were at the stadium, including college students were not a representation of Malawians, they were coaxed with money, t-shirts and Lorries and showing them on TV doesn’t mean that the rest of the nation will subscribe to the propaganda.

The college students that still support DPP are either tribal loyalists or puppets, I for one would not associate with the colour blue, not even with a 2 million cheque!

The Malawi nation is now officially a police state, I saw a group of students being shot at for just singing. Of course the Chinese will not say anything and the other donors won’t intervene because we do not have oil, we will go through what we went through under Kamuzu Banda and we will survive.

Long live the people that are not giving up in fighting for genuine democracy, long live the NGO’s long live the Nation and BNL newspapers and long live protest politics.

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