Although our country re-embraced plural politics, there seems to be rudiments of dictatorship and totalitarianism. Yes, the opposition political parties are salivating because they may be thinking that I am here to castigate, once again the governing party (not ruling party as if they were kings and vassals). The opposition MCP, PP and other smaller parties are competent in their mudsling and castigation of the DPP.
I do not think I can do any much better than them. So, I will not try to do a job they are good at already. I am talking here about systems regardless of political parties.
The list of people who have been arrested, sometimes charged with treason and/or sedition is increasing. Of course, there are two alternatives as to what will happen to that list. It can remain the same, or it can increase. That list cannot reduce. The largest category of people on such a list are politicians or former politicians.
Legal (or is it law?) scholars have identified some reasons we have these treason or sedition cases that do not see the light of day. First, is political influence on the Malawi Police Service. It is believed that politicians in the governing party or in fact State House may be the ones pulling the strings.
No evidence has been demonstrated one way or the other whether indeed this has been happening. Perhaps the closest there has been to circumstantial evidence is when a State President starts talking at press conferences or political (or call them developmental rallies-obviously a misnomer) that the government has uncovered a plot this and that. The ministers and some members of the governing party then start saying the old same song “let the rule of law take its course”. The traitors are then arrested and released on bail and that is often the end of the story.
Another reason the “traitors” have not been charged and brought to court is that things stall at the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). Either the director does not want to prosecute or s/he is instructed not to by the Attorney-General (AG). Although the DPP’s office is independent, legal scholars say this office works hand in hand with the AG. It is said that the AG may be the one pulling the strings. Lack of evidence is probably also another reason. Now, if we are to take heed the admonition from the Malawi Law Society (MLS) 2016 annual general meeting that ‘idiots’ in law should keep their mouths shut, I should not even be writing this article. But ‘idiots’, true to their name, can’t listen to advice. Otherwise, they stop being ‘idiots’.
Knowing that the laws on treason and sedition are archaic and not in keeping with the current political dispensation is one thing. Knowing that these laws are abused is another thing, but not enough. Readers, if you have Internet access please google “Mike Niffong”. We cannot be helpless. Abusing prosecutorial powers can be stopped. I will come to this story sometime later this year. n