April 8, 2012
The instruments of State and power were finally passed on to Joyce Banda on Saturday during her swearing in ceremony in Lilongwe. This was despite DPPâ€™s sinister and highly treasonable machinations to rape our Constitution in broad daylight by trying to stop her from ascending to the high office of President.
Thank God, DPPâ€™s conspiracy to crucify our constitutionalism on the cross of political opportunism was foiled by people I can only describe as true patriots. Today, whatever respect the DPP had lies in tatters and it will take a great deal for the party to convince Malawians to trust them again.
But as the DPP licks its wounds in political purgatory, let me extend heartfelt felicitations to our new President Joyce Banda and pray that God guides her as she tries to repair the damage her predecessor and his party inflicted on the national psyche.
As a citizen, I have great expectations but I will not ask the obvious from Madam President.
I am not going to ask her to solve the fuel crisis which has taken the over-incompetent DPP government four long years to deal with. I wonâ€™t ask her to devalue our currency and help bring forex back to our banks and our bureaux. I wonâ€™t ask her to use her good office to repeal the bad laws that the DPP imposed on us for the simple reason that she is well aware of our predicament. I will not ask her to do something about the shortage of sugarâ€”as though it is not a commodity produced just 40 kilometres from Blantyre. Nor will I ask her to mend fences with our neighbours and development partners whom her predecessor constantly vilified and hurled insults at. I know that she already has these on her agenda and I hope that with time, we will see resolution.
I will not add my chorus to those who want to see justice done for the 20 hapless Malawians who police gunned down mercilessly in the streets last July 20 for protesting bad governance, economic mismanagement and dictatorial rule, among others. I wonâ€™t ask her to re-read the petition that the people of this country presented to her predecessor.
As a journalist, I am tempted to ask the new President about a bread-and-butter issueâ€”Section 46 of the Penal Code which gives the Minister of Information power to ban Weekend Nation as one publication in the national interest, rendering me and all those who work on it unemployed.
Like I said, I believe Madam President will do the right thing and listen to the cries of the peopleâ€”something that for years fell on DPPâ€™s big deaf ears.
For now, all I can say is that fate has chosen Joyce Banda to change that which needs to be changedâ€”in the public interest. Unless otherwise stated, she does not need me or anybody else for that matter to remind her.
I will only ask for a very small favour from her and it is simply to make all Malawians feel that they are Malawian.
Instead of listening to the voices of the people and reading the writing on the wall, DPP opted to call Malawians who did not agree with its policies chickens and tiapumbwa. It looked for enemies behind every anthill, or worse, like Sancho Panza in Cervantesâ€™ classic tale, Don Quixote, for windmills to fight.
There were imaginary coups and all kinds of plots being hatched to bring about regime change. This way, DPP was able to deploy heavily armed police officers wearing menacingly ugly camouflage fatigues patrolling every corner of our cities looking for enemies who only existed in the imaginations of those who ran government.
Those of us who chose to speak out about bad governance and the ugly face of dictatorship lived in constant fear of arrest and harassment from DPP hoodlums and spies. We could not have a quiet drink at our favourite watering holes after a hard dayâ€™s work without getting this sense that Big Brother was watching you and listening to your every word.
To put it bluntly, DPPâ€™s rule was reaching dangerous levels of impunity.
But this is not 1984â€”the year oligarchical dictatorship reigned supreme in Georgeâ€™s Orwellâ€™s make-believe country of Oceania. This is 2012 in a real Malawiâ€”a Malawi that was sick and tired of a government that was deaf to the wailing and the gnashing of teeth of its citizens.
Madam President, I just want to continue feeling the way I have felt since the fall of DPP last week for the rest of my life: A free Malawian sleeping in peace and not afraid that I may be arrested, beaten or killed for speaking out against tyranny.
By saying this, I know I am speaking on behalf of many Malawians, especially those who chose to be on the other side of DPPâ€™s policies.