During the week, supporters of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) engaged another gear in the freedom of expression drive when they had the first leg of marches, the Restoration of Democratic Justice. The march in Blantyre on Monday was fascinating and strange in a number of ways.
In the first place, the marchers presented their 10-point petition to the city’s chief executive officer (CEO) Alfred Chanza, in which, among other things, they called for the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to probe the five Constitutional Court judges for alleged bribery. They also claimed that there are family ties between one of the judges, Sunduzwayo Madise and UTM Party president Saulos Chilima.
From Chanza, the marchers expect the petition to be presented to Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda.
Now, the accusation levelled against the judges is really serious. The DPP supporters went overboard, especially considering that their patron Peter Mutharika appealed against the ConCourt ruling.
How they think relationship between Chilima and Madise would change the course of justice in the panel of four other judges defies all reason. It is outright unfathomable.
Looking at the placards the DPP supporters carried on the day, one would wonder if at all they were mindful of the implications of their actions. One placard claimed the ‘corrupt’ judges were given money by a renowned businessman. Yet another called the ruling ‘fraudulent’.
And another one justified that since the EU and Sadc international observers said the polls were free and fair, no one can upturn that.
It was clear that the marchers led by party gurus Henry Mussa, Nicholas Dausi, Grezzelder Jeffrey and Francis Mphepo chose to ignore the fact that the rule of law is primary in a democracy. The leaders capitalised on the people’s ignorance of the law that this is a matter of subjudice. But then, ignorance of the law is no excuse.
Funny enough, the judiciary and the ACB say days after presenting the petition claiming they had evidence of bribery, the party has not brought forth such evidence. And Mussa says nowhere in their petition did they say they had evidence.
If you thought Mussa had played his last card, you were wrong. He will tell you that even if the DPP had such evidence, then it would not be for public consumption.
Capitalising on the ignorance aside, this reasoning is questionable. Why level such allegations when you have no evidence?
Where I come from, it is a well-known fact that a pregnant woman is advised not to hurl insults to the birth attendant. It is also known that when one is not satisfied with a village headman’s ruling that he pays a hen for his crimes and reports to the group village headman, the higher authority can rule that the malefactor pay two chickens.
It is not uncommon for politicians to capitalise on the masses’ ignorance for their own gains.
At this point, it is clear that justice is on its course, with Mutharika and the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) appealing to the Supreme Court. It is only time that will tell whether the ConCourt had it right or it erred.
While we are at it, the progress the Legislature and Judiciary are making in speeding up the process to end the stalemate that has held Malawi at ransom for eight months is commendable. This is the true restoration of ‘democratic’ justice. n