The coming of multiparty democracy to Malawi in 1994, brought in a lot of freedoms, one of which was to openly show activism. So far, activists as human rights defenders and government watchdogs have done extremely well in very difficult circumstances. They have also complemented well with other organisations such as the Public Affairs Committee and parliamentary committees. Above everything else, activists have sensitised Malawians that peaceful demonstrations are legal as allowed in the Malawi Constitution. As most people can remember, during the dictatorship era Malawians were in perpetual fear of reprisal and no one could dare point an accusing finger at government, let alone president Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda. Surprisingly, some people still live in fear of the unknown. Meanwhile, fear should not be there because activists have shown the way by courageously facing government.
As it has been the tradition in Malawi, every government in power has been overrating its performance, even if it is obvious that they have failed and that people were suffering. For example, despite all the problems that people are grappling with, the Peter Mutharika government is assuming that it has done well and that much better things are yet to come if he can be voted back into power. When talking about future successes, any sensible person should look at the past where they can learn from. Therefore, it is naïve for any person to believe that the future under President Mutharika will be better than what has been the case in the past four years of his rule. In fact, it does not need the genius to know that Malawians have been struggling during the past four years.
While Malawians have been suffering, it has been activists who have exposed the real causes of the hardships in the country. Some of which are corruption, stealing in government as well as stifling of all the possibilities of the people of Malawi living a better life.
Imagine, what could have happened to public resources if activists and parliamentary committees had not worked hard on the Malawi–Zambia maize scandal? Millions of kwacha would have just gone into wrong pockets.
Similarly, the same would have happened to the jaw-dropping case of the K145 million of the police food rations scandal. There are countless examples of issues where activists have come in to protect the interest of Malawians.
Sadly, despite their good work, time and again, activists have received threats to their lives. Usually, threats come from individuals who have overrated themselves in the society. Such people hate to be suspects in corruption cases and other malpractices.
If activists dare to get involved in bringing such people to book, they start dishing out threats. They call activists all manner of bad names and conclude their threats by saying that activists are nothing as they do not own anything.
What such arrogant suspects should know is that, indeed, activists do not own much because they do not steal from government or get involved in corruption deals. In that way, they are not suspiciously rich.
Whatever activists do is supported by the Malawi Constitution. This includes the peaceful demonstrations. Some people who are satisfied with government performance have come out to condemn demonstrations as being confrontational while they prefer engagement with government.
Such people deliberately forget how many times government has come up with excuses to dialogue with activists, including PAC.
Without activists blowing whistles here and there this country would be under crooks who think they have powers to control the financial status of the country. Let us all watch out.