The article ‘UN Backs APM on Hyena Arrest’, which appeared in The Nation of Thursday, August 4 2016, has prompted me to come in the open with my stand on the matter.
We are told that United Nations (UN) official for gender equality and Women’s empowerment Phunzile Mlambo Ngcuka—the former vice-president of South Africa under Thabo Mbeki—has written President Peter Mutharika praising him for his swift action on the notorious story of the Casanova in the Shire Valley district of Nsanje.
First, I must say to Ngcuka in the Ngoni language: “khuluma nkosikazi [speak queen] so that the president’s critics should know he has international backing on this matter.”
In some quarters, Malawians have said the president’s directive to the police to arrest Eric Aniva, who claims to have slept with over 100 women and girls in a sexual cleansing ritual, smacks of dictatorship and that he should have left the police to act independently. There are alarmist sentiments from people who have forgotten what amounted to dictatorship between 1963 and 1993.
This man behaves like a real hyena. He is dangerous, knowing as he does that he is HIV positive yet he engages in promiscuity thereby putting at risk the lives of the many girls he has defiled. His misconduct is not different from those who are killing persons with albinism. Neither is the president’s directive about Aniva substantially from his reaction to the albino killers.
Both groups of people deserve immediate apprehension before they do more harm.
The Nsanje hyena apparently enjoys obscene publicity. Having let the whole nation know his romances, he felt that is not enough. Through the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) he decided to let the whole world know he is the African casanova, further tarnishing the image of a country battered by narratives of the Cashgate and the discriminatory attacks against people with albinism.
As regards constitutional and political philosophy, the president has acted within his prerogatives by giving directives to the police to arrest the two-legged hyena.
According to our political philosophy, this democratic State operates through three branches-the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. Each has its own sphere of competence and influence.
The Malawi Police Service is an arm of the Executive. It is not independent of it. The president as the head of the Executive has powers to do anything that is in conformity with the oath of office that he took as commander-in-chief of the armed forces and the police service. He is the commander-in-chief not just in theory, but also in practice.
Malawians, beware of two political dangers: a president with unlimited powers (a dictator) and a weak president who lets groups or individuals in society do what they like.
A dictator, by appointing members of Parliament and depriving the judiciary of independence, makes lives of ordinary people very insecure.
There is also a great deal of insecurity under a laissez-faire president as some individuals and groups allocate to themselves privileges and powers at the expense of the majority of the people. Remember that according to the social contract theory, government had to be instituted because in a state of anarchy life was nasty, brutal and short.
Presidents must listen to what people say, but must not forget that they are in charge. In emergency, it is the president’s responsibility to act fast and save the situation. If Mutharika had not given the orders to arrest Eric Aniva, perhaps by this time, he would have defiled more girls and women and these people would have been entitled to sue government for failing to act on the information available to it.
The president’s action would have been faulted if he had just detained Aniva indefinitely without trial. Mutharika’s order does not deny the hyena-man the chance to appear in court and hire lawyers to defend him.
It would also have been dictatorship if he had directed that he should be tried by a kangaroo court which pronounces verdicts already determined by the Executive.
A President must be neither too powerful nor too weak, but somewhere in between. He is the embodiment of sovereign power. If somebody believes in such manner as to put the lives of people at risk, it is the duty of the State Chief Executive Officer to restrain the dangerous fellow. The Constitution says so.