Before the High Court sitting as the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) in Lilongwe declared that the May 21 presidential election were marred by irregularities, DPP was unanimous as it was vocal in condemning the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) for holding demonstrations across the country. The protests were aimed at forcing Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson Jane Ansah to resign from her job for allegedly sleeping on the job.
From day one of the demonstrations, DPP gave the impression that HRDC leaders Timothy Mtambo and Gift Trapence were two headless morons bent on treasonously bringing down the “lawfully instituted DPP-led government” with Peter Mutharika as its President. As was expected DPP operatives tried to employ all the tricks in the book to put spanners in the works—to botch the demonstrations and portray the protests’ organisers as violent lunatics on the loose which once caught should at all costs have been taken to the nearest reformatory and confined there.
With this demonic portrayal of HRDC, it did not come as a surprise to some of us that the taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), in its most idiotic thinking, went to the extent of calling the human rights activists’ organisation a rebel group. On its part, HRDC wasted no time to file a defamation suit against MBC. When did organisers of peaceful demonstrations start to become rebels anywhere in the world? And now what defense will MBC put up in court when HRDC demands its pound of flesh in the Merchant of Venice’s Shylock Holmes’s style? Unfortunately, it is us the taxpayer who will pay that bill. I digressed.
DPP’s stand has always been that after opposition leaders, UTM Party’s Saulos Chilima and MCP’s Lazarus Chakwera, had taken their contestation of Mutharika’s victory to court, HRDC were behaving like hooligans to protest the same issues about the elections through demonstrations. But HRDC’s has dug in saying their protests were only aimed at forcing Ansah out of MEC for presiding over a fraudulent election.
When Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus set sail in 1492, he predicted he would make landfall in Asia (Blakemore, 2017). Legend has it that he defied Spanish officials to do so, sailing west instead of east because he was certain the world was round, thanks to Libyan born Greek scientific writer, astronomer, and poet, Eratosthenes, who had proved so many centuries before.
In their ill-fated bid to bitch up the demonstrations, it was like not a single DPP loyalist—cadre or cadet—had the slightest clue that the world is round and not flat. And that it spins on itself.
The story about Columbus is that when he lived, people thought that the earth was flat. They believed the Atlantic Ocean to be filled with monsters large enough to devour their ships, and with fearful waterfalls over which their frail vessels would plunge to destruction. Columbus had to debunk these foolish myths and beliefs in order to get men to sail with him. He was sure the earth was round (Emma Miler Bolenius, American Schoolbook Author, 1919).
The February 3 2020 ConCourt ruling may have just proved once again, especially to the DPP rank and file—that the Earth is not a finite plane but a round planet as Columbus sought to prove to his contemporaries. The blue party never imagined the court would break from tradition and overturn the tables. The party never thought it would have to change tune and start holding demonstrations while they are contesting the ConCourt’s ruling in the Supreme Court of Appeal. DPP never dreamed they would start doing exactly the same thing they have been fighting and vilifying HRDC and opposition leaders for the eight months the country was engulfed with demonstrations. The same party is now holding demonstrations in all the country’s major cities.
Starting with Blantyre and Zomba during the week, they are trying to put up a brave face and encouraging one another that they will now take their demonstrations to Lilongwe where Mutharika has only appeared to the public twice in nine months. And both times only briefly. DPP also has the audacity to even claim they can go to Mzuzu where Mutharika has never set foot since announcement of results of the ill-fated elections.
The question now is why is DPP doing exactly what they were demonising HRDC and opposition leaders for? Can one DPP strategist or spin doctor raise their hand and justify their demonstrations. DDP is doing the same things for which MBC dubbed HRDC a rebel group. How many rebel groups do we have in Malawi now? HRDC, DPP and counting… This is for MBC to answer. The world is still round as Eratosthenes, born 276 BC and died 194 BC ably proved. And it does not spin around anyone. It spins on itself and we all just have to hang on to it.