By the time this column was going to bed, Malawians from all corners of the country, had participated in peaceful protests against various social, economic and political ills that are rocking the country.
Despite several attempts by the ruling party to disrupt and discredit the demonstrations, patriotic Malawians didn’t relent. Rather the attempts ignited the need to send a loud and clear message to the country’s leadership that people are fed up with what is happening in Malawi.
By Thursday, when some DPP officials organised demonstrations against Friday demonstrations, it was quite clear that this party under Peter Mutharika is not different from the DPP under the former president, the late Bingu wa Mutharika. It never learns from experiences. A day before the July 20 2011 demonstrations DPP cadets staged an intimidation parade with the hope of scaring and stopping people from taking part in the demonstrations.
On July 20, they also tried hard to stop the demonstrations and the result was loss of life.
This script almost played out again on Friday, when in Blantyre the DPP cadets organised a party at Kamuzu Upper Stadium with the hope of stopping people from marching. Thank God, this time there was no loss of life.
One would think that the DPP politburo is aware of this and that it would try to avoid a repeat of the 2011 incident. Unfortunately, this is the DPP we are talking about—a party known for violence and intimidation.
Malawians must be commended for braving the intimidating atmosphere created by the DPP. Clad in red and black, Malawians took to the streets in Karonga, Rumphi, Mzuzu, Lilongwe, Blantyre and Zomba. They walked peacefully and delivered their petitions—except for an incident in Lilongwe, where the police, despite CSOs getting permission to go ahead to deliver their petition at Capital Hill, blocked the way and stopped the protesters from going to Capital Hill but were later allowed to do so.
The April 27 2018 demonstrations have shown that if the people are determined, there is nothing that can stop them—not even a blue sea of DPP cadets.
Sometime ago, I wrote about how I admire activist Billy Mayaya. While many Malawians tend to sit and watch while feeling powerless and hopeless, Mayaya is not afraid to pick up his placard and march in the streets even if it means doing it alone with a horde of people laughing at him, he does not relent—now that is courage that every Malawian should have if we want to see change.
It’s either we cultivate the culture of speaking out our views or politicians will always take advantage of our timidity to plunder and run this country amok.
Others are of the opinion that demonstrations do not bring any change. Who said demonstrations are an end? Demonstrations are merely a means to an end. It does not mean that change has to come as soon as the petition is delivered.
Demonstrations are also not a game of numbers but a matter of expressing one’s views and sending the message. There is again, nothing like “too much” demonstrations.
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), please do not falter in your work of whipping politicians into line. If demonstrations are a means to that end, then keep on doing it.