Malawians know very well that Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda was a very powerful leader, who could not accept any suggestion detrimental to his leadership.
But, surprisingly, Kamuzu listened and accepted the call by Malawians to end one-party system of government and introduce multiparty democracy. Although Kamuzu had all the power not to accept the referendum results in 1993, he obviously realised that the end of his one-party dictatorship had come and there was no need to resist change. Then he organised a smooth transition to multiparty government.
Dictatorship aside, peaceful transition to multiparty democracy earned Dr Banda a rare credit which cannot be taken away from him. What also earned him credit was the spirit of hard work, honesty and discipline that he instilled in Malawians. Back-door deals, corruption and abuse of taxpayers’ money were totally unacceptable.
Security in the country was one of Kamuzu’s credits. Those were the days one could leave items outside the house overnight and could be found in the morning. This is not the case today.
Meanwhile, it must be mentioned that, during the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) rule, the party had its own youth wing—the Malawi Young Pioneers (MYP). While these were trained in handling guns, this was under strict control and the MYPs were not seen moving about with guns. The same was the case with the Police and Malawi Defence Force.
The situation in Malawi now is the direct opposite. There is total security breakdown. Under President Peter Mutharika, the youth wing of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), called cadets, even roam about displaying guns, pangas and any other lethal weapons. The media usually carries such displays.
Most Malawians have commented about this, but the President and his government have not spoken anything against such militias. It goes without saying that such habits of roaming the streets armed with lethal weapons, definitely shows that there is a government which does not care about the security of its people.
For the first time in the history of independent Malawi, people’s homes, offices and cars are being petrol bombed. One wonders where these bombs are coming from and if there was a caring government, by now it would have investigated and found control measures before every Malawian becomes a victim.
Investigations would have also gone as far as the whereabouts of those guns people allegedly snatched from the police during demonstrations. If the guns are still in the communities, people will use them for armed robbery.
In fact, Malawi is no longer as peaceful as it used to be in the past. Imagine, during the recent meeting which took place at Lilongwe Crossroads Hotel between the Attorney General and Human Rights Defenders (HRDC), people allegedly chased away some men who were aiming at bombing a car belonging to HRDC. Surprisingly, it was civilians who chased away the alleged bombers while the police were reportedly just watching. Without doubt, these suspected bombers were testing the security of this country. The fact that they attempted to bomb a car in broadday light, says a lot about security in the country.
The President should know better that for Malawi to be peaceful again, he must disarm the DPP cadets and any other groups which the law does not mandate to be armed. Therefore, there is urgent need for another ‘Operation Bwezani’. Only official security organisations such as MDF and Police must be armed.
Malawians must know that having armed groups is a catalyst of civil unrest. Malawi is not ready for that.