Malawians have been at pains after the May 21 elections. Their businesses have been affected by the mass protests organized by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) under the leadership of Timothy Mtambo for having the elections allegedly riddled with alterations and other anomalies.
That citizens have a right to demonstrate it’s something that we cannot debate. However, the manner in which the protests are conducted can force some quarters to debate on the matter and start thinking of limiting such a right. It is undisputable fact that the current anti-Jane Ansah protests have affected the businesses of ordinary Malawians and the country’s economy by extension.
Worse still, the protests have regional face, whereby people from the central region and northern region have united to fight against the President Peter Mutharika from the southern region. Southerners, especially from the Lhomwe belt are being targeted in the central and northern region.
Mutharika, who is the professor of law, has scored points as democratic leader by not interfering with the demonstrators. Malawi Police, on several occasions, have been harassed but Inspector General Rodney Jose did not order use of excessive force.
But having realized that the duty to protect the citizens is in the hands of the state president, Mutharika has ordered Malawi Police and Malawi Defence Force (MDF) to stop the demonstrations scheduled from 26 to 30 August.
The question that arises from president order is simple: could MDF commander Nundwe disobey the order? The question is not strange to those who have been following the actions of MDF soldiers during the protests. Nundwe, not once but severally, has shown that he is pro anti-Jane Ansah and the protesters rejoice when the soldiers are around.
Constitutionally, Nundwe is supposed to obey the order. The order is not for MDF or police to shoot at citizens but to stop the demonstration for the benefit of all citizens. So it’s erroneous to call that order “unlawful”.
Military discipline and effectiveness are built on a foundation of obedience to orders. Recruits are taught to obey orders from their superiors immediately and without question, right from day one of boot camp. If Nundwe choose to act to the contrary, he must know he has also cut his tenure in the office. It is a fact that holders of such positions must be loyal to the president no matter what. And if you think loyalty is rare vocabulary in your lexicon then never accept positions of that nature.