Fish starts rotting from the head. That is why it was the head of State and her entire leadership especially in the executive which bore the greatest brunt in 2013 following revelations that K24 billion was looted from government coffers. Money was looted on her watch. Little did the nation know the plunder of government resources now said to be in the region of K236 billion—started in 2009, if not earlier, and continued after 2014—according to findings by audit and financier advisors, PricewaterhouseCoopers and RSM Risk Assurance Services LLP of the UK. But for failing to arrest the heinous acts former president Joyce Banda and her administration could not be fully absolved of the problem.
Enter Eric Aniva and his ‘hyena’ antics who by his own admission is HIV positive and has slept with 104 women and girls, the blame should first and foremost be laid on the country’s leadership for failing to nip the problem in its bud. Fish starts rotting from the head. Fair and square! When the leadership is clueless you do not expect the followers to be better.
To start with, the story of Aniva has been in the public domain for six months now. But the President and entire executive have been looking the other away. It makes no sense now for the President to be frothing over the ‘fisi’ activities in Nsanje when he has a whole cabinet and a long list of lieutenants who are supposed to have stopped the practice when the issue was first brought to light. What were they doing? The President should not now be issuing orders about the arrest of this man simply because the story has been aired on BBC.
All this just goes to show that the executive is ineffective and clueless and/or, to say the least, has its priorities upside down, and Malawians should not expect much from them by way of improving things in the country.
As for the President directing the Police on Tuesday to arrest Aniva, that was also too little too late. The man was already arrested a day earlier after the story was aired on BBC and other international media outlets.
I hope the only new development from the presidential directive is that it will result in the arrest of Aniva’s 10 other ‘hyenas’ in the same business. And he will be prosecuted for confessing that he is HIV positive and therefore must have infected some of the girls and women with it. Poor Aniva and some of his accomplices may as well have got the virus from some of the women they slept with.
But who is to blame for all this? First, Aniva himself and his accomplices, because ignorance is no defence before the law. After knowing his sero status Aniva should have stopped rendering the ‘services’ knowing fully he would infect his clients.
Secondly, the women themselves he has been sleeping with are also to blame. It is common knowledge that having unprotected sex with a high risk person like Aniva would put them at high risk of getting infected with the virus. Thirdly, the parents of the girls who availed their wards to Aniva for the ‘ritual cleansing’ are to blame. These too need to be investigated and punished for their role in putting their children at risk.
The girls who have had unprotected sex with Aniva need to be tested as a matter of urgency so that they know their status.
Fourth, there is urgent need to intensify Aids education in Nsanje and some parts of the country where similar rituals are taking place with Nsanje being at the top. The President should lead the pack to send the message home.
Last but not least in their heinous acts, the traditional leaders who are custodians of traditions and preside over such cultural practices and get something from these acts should also be thoroughly investigated and taught lessons.
With all the money that is being poured into the country for the national response to the pandemic, it is unimaginable that some high risk cultural practices like ‘ritual cleansing’ are still rampant in some districts.
Let me now turn to the issue of University of Malawi fees hike which is refusing to die with students from all the constituent colleges protesting the fees hike through demonstrations.
While students may not have followed some procedures for their demonstrations, I put the blame on successive governments which have kept university school fees too low for a long time for political correctness.
Higher education is not cheap and authorities should, over the years, have ensured that fees gradually go up in tandem with the rising cost of living and dwindling resource envelope. That way, students would not have felt that the fees hike has been raised too much overnight. n