Whenever a leader chooses confrontation with his or her citizens, it doesn’t end well.
Last week we cogitated the time former President Bakili Muluzi suffered public rebuke and embarrassment after his podium order banning all forms of demonstrations was rendered inconsequential by the court.
Arrogance, they say, comes before a fall. In Muluzi’s case, what followed was the beginning of the end. While the third term bill collapsed, its ripple effects are the seeds of United Democratic Front (UDF)’s ongoing dilapidation.
Further, what was supposed to be a legacy of Malawi’s first multi-party president became Malawi’s first multi-party president who tried to reverse gears and failed.
Today, he is proving highly irrelevant.
Want another example?
When Bingu started smoking us out the ensuing rumpus heralded the collapse of his regime. By the time his Maker loved him more than DPP Cadets did, some Malawians defied taboo and celebrated.
Lest we forget, efforts by then Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Mutharika to abuse the military and block the then Vice President Joyce Banda from ascending to the presidency flopped.
As chronicled in the Commission of Inquiry into the death of Bingu wa Mutharika, the military rebuffed unconstitutionality; setting a high moral standard that the Malawi Defence Forces is unshakeably loyal to the Constitution and not to the whims of dubious gold diggers.
We have come full circle, today President Peter Mutharika insists on accelerating his own downfall.
After burying his head the ostrich way hoping the current impasse will just vaporise due to global warming; on Wednesday he opened his mouth when commissioning warships in Monkey-Bay.
Instead of sticking to the agenda, he invested energies attacking the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM for the ongoing Ansah-must-fall demonstrations.
The anti-climax was ordering to the Army and Police to do anything possible to stop the impending border and airport peaceful demonstrations which Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has organized from August 26 to 30 2019.
He ominously warned the organizers never to say that they were not warned if they go ahead with the demonstrations.
“Without borders, there is no Malawi. Undermining our borders is undermining the very existence and sovereignty of our country,” he said.
“Invading borders is the greatest threat anyone can pose to our country. I, will, therefore, have no choice but to take all measures necessary to ensure and protect the sovereignty and integrity of our nation.
“As the Commander-in-Chief, I am directing the MDF and the police to protect our borders and airports with all the necessary force to ensure that the integrity of our borders is not compromised even for a single minute.”
Putting it differently, Mutharika has issued a decree banning the demonstrations.
And this begs the following questions:
- Does he have the right to ban or stop demonstrations?
• Can a Johnny-come-lately who was safely ensconced elsewhere when Malawians were fighting for their rights in the early nineties just wake up one day and suspend Malawians’ rights?
• Indeed, how can a person “invade” their own territory?
Worrisome is that Mutharika is a ranking lawyer who should know that Malawians’ right to demonstrate has a strong precedent in Malawi’s case law.
With a solid precedent established in a case argued against by his current Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale SC in 2002; one wonders what both are high on to embark on this path that can only take us back to the dictatorship we abolished in 1993.
Where is this inexplicable ignorance of the doctrine of precedent coming from?
I, for one, know Mutharika’s game: knowing he is personally incapable of resolving the impasse or any crisis for that matter; he wants to transfer the burden to the Malawi Defence Force (MDF), the only state institution Malawians love, trust and respect.
Mutharika hopes to dodge the bullet while pitting citizens against the Army and vice versa instead of merely making the unpalatable decision which will address the legitimate concerns of Malawi citizenry now amply and beyond reasonable doubt validated by BDO Jordan’s report.
Remind me Blues’ Orators, why did he want the job? Why is he clinging to a job he lacks the guts for? Who, for crying out loud, courts a maiden only to delegate the task of impregnating her to a random bystander?
The good news for Malawi is that the MDF leadership has probably seen through Mutharika’s spinelessness; they know he is looking for a fall guy.
Try as he may, he won’t succeed in blackmailing the MDF whose leader is on record promising to protect citizens’ right to demonstration and has several times walked this talk.
Whatever the case one thing is clear: in the unlikely event that our security organs choose to self-destruct by following the unconstitutional order to shoot citizens; they too will join the many Government organs which:
- are not fit to serve Malawi and Malawians; and
• only exist to oblige narrow interests of an elite and/or tribally connected few;
hence which once the winds of change finish sweeping over Malawi, will be completely reformed with heads rolling galore from top to bottom.
Examples are numerous of how when the mighty fall, they fall pretty hard.
Comrade Robert Mugabe and lately Omar Al Bashir are living exhibits. If contacted for advice by our Mutharika; they would tell him that one sure fire way to oblivion and possible jail residency is taking things for granted.
Luckily, Mutharika still has room to manoeuvre but time is fast running out. If he were lacking sound justification; the BDO Jordan’s Auditors bombshell has everything.
Otherwise, arrogance, ignorance and incompetence as per Graydon Carter are not a pretty cocktail of personality traits in the best of situations. In a head of state, they are disastrous.
Come to think of it, this deadly combination of arrogance, ignorance and incompetence is not only harmful for everyone; it’s someone’s one-way ticket to gaol.
Case authority? Al Bashir.