Banda has told the world that she is President today because of one patriot who stood for constitutionalism. Everything being equal, the Judiciary, as the interpreter of laws, is where this true patriot should have come from.
But alas! This was not the case. According to the President, the Malawian who saved this nation from chaos and anarchy is from the unlikely sourceâ€”the Army. To its credit, the Malawi Defence Force has behaved impeccably since Malawi gained independence in 1964. Our men and women in uniform have remained in the barracks and stayed clear of politics at all times. They have stuck to their own code and maxim of respecting civilian supremacy to the letter.
But I am aware that elsewhere in Africa, even today, soldiers are fighting their way to the State House using machine guns. Put in the picture the fact that Bingu wa Mutharika is the first president in Malawi to die while in office and you have an idea that the temptation might have been there.
We were all in dangerous waters and anything could have happened. But no, according to the President, one noble son of Malawi, General Henry Odillo, did his duty in the melee of madness that engulfed the parochial DPP government. As a soldier, he pledged loyalty to a person the Constitution ordered him to and that was President Joyce Banda. Well done, soldier!
But the President dropped the bombshell last weekend.
She candidly told the world in the Guardian interview what we already knew because we saw it that some ministers, now christened the Midnight Six, held a news conference during the dark hour â€œtelling the nation that I had no authority to act as President, that they were making arrangements to take over, that after all the President was OK and recovering. And all the while he was dead the previous day at 12 oâ€™clock.â€
Joyce Banda then went for what we did not know that the DPP Cabinet sought a court order to block her. She told the world: â€œBy that time, the Chief Justice and some judges were sitting at Peter Mutharikaâ€™s house waiting for the court order in order to swear him in.â€
She continued: â€œAll Cabinet ministers were there, too, and all Members of Parliament were there as well. But somebody called one minister to say, â€˜We donâ€™t know whether you know whatâ€™s going on but Joyce Banda is here and now itâ€™s looking real, so whatever you are doing elsewhere will be looked upon as treason.â€™ At that point, 15 ministers abandoned that place and came running to my house.â€
The nation knows that there was a group of Malawians that acted wayward and wanted to overthrow constitutionalism in this country and perpetuate monarchism by installing Peter Mutharika as president after his brother died.
Mulanje West MP Patricia Kaliati has been the face of that gang after she led the Midnight Six to blab pure nonsense on that fateful night. But the nation does not know the full extent of the facts and who else was involved.
I thought for the sake of posterity, the President must institute a commission of inquiry to probe the whole conspiracy not for vengeance purposes, but as a tool to know the full facts of what happened so that a repeat in the future is avoided at all costs. Lives could have been lost if the DPP madness was allowed to prevail.
But assuming that what the President says is the whole truthâ€”and she stands by the interviewâ€”then one might be tempted to forgive Kaliati and others. They were simply doing the bidding of people who by virtue of their positions should have been the first to say what the law says without fear or favour and Chief Justice is one of them.
As it is, there is bad blood between the President and the Chief Justice. I also know that the nation at large cannot trust a Chief Justice who is being accused of being found on the wrong side of the supreme law of the land.
The position of the Chief Justice is, therefore, untenable although the President cannot fire him and that he can only be impeached by Parliament. To avoid unnecessary conflicts between the Executive and Judiciary and to restore the public confidence in the Judiciary, Munlo must simply do the honourable thing, which is to resign.
According to the President, Munlo did not serve the nation well at its most crucial hour of need.