We left Kasungu two days ago and we are now here in Mchinji for a brief but serious one-day official event. We have been prompted by the (not-so) Democratic People’s Party (DPP)’s campaign tactics. You see, the DPP campaign machine is already spending sleepless nights as though the party is out of government. The DPP knows the next election is almost four years away but in DPP political theory, everyday is campaign day.
Some of us were born at night, but it was not last night. Yes, we may be outside the DPP house, but we can still see what is inside that party. We see campaigning in all this presidential gallivanting and helicoptering from district to district to lay this foundation stone here today and open that project there tomorrow. It is not necessarily in the national interest it is draining Malawi’s shoestring already-cashgated resources. The party is more interested in the 2019 elections than in sorting out today’s woes.
That’s what all this full page newspaper advertisement of the party’s self-declared achievements and fulfilment of campaign promises means. All this bill-boarding, all this symbolic annihilation of opposition personalities on the Mutharika, sorry, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation TV is a campaign tactic for 2019.
There is one thing we admire about this party of death and darkness. This is that the party is not afraid of raising controversy. Recently, it held a news conference where it announced that it had introduced user fees in some hospitals. When some chiefs and poor villagers protested, the party came back to deny what it said. It even used such strong words as null and void. The other day it raised salaries for the presidency only to come back and rejected the salaries.
Those who care will remember that a man pretending to be disgruntled with the DPP has been all over the internet condemning the party in power and his own colleagues. But, we are not children. We know this is the same party campaigning. It is trying to show that it can tolerate criticism. Soon, and very soon, we will hear that the same person is back into the mainstream.
Recently we heard someone say “dziko lino ndi la fodya”. Far from being a gaffe, this is another campaign tactic, saying something people can always remember. We have learned from the DPP that one can still make news even when there is nothing newsworthy. That is why we are here. Before coming here, we bought enough blue, yellow, green and orange paint. We also procured enough paintbrushes. We are here, in Mchinji, to paint the cell in which we were once incarcerated and to write some graffiti thereunto.
“Tell us, what really happened for you to be incarcerated?”
“Sometime in 1987, we came here to play volleyball against a team that was named Mchinji district select….”
“You came here from where?” asked Abiti Joyce Befu, also known as MG 66, our leader of expedition.
“That’s immaterial!” I challenged.
“Why?” MG 66 challenged.
“Because the past is immaterial. It’s gone with its agonies and beauties. Edward Chitsulo used to say, to achieve great things in life, forget about the past; look ahead instead,” I said.
“Okay… continue your story…” Native Authority Mandela urged me.
“So, during the volleyball game, I smashed the ball into one of the girls that came to watch us play. The girl went to report to her father who identified me as the smasher. The police came to pick not only me but also my teammates…”
“For what?” Sheikh Jean-Philippe LePossoin screamed
“The girl I had hit with that ball was the MCP Mchinji district chairman’s daughter,” I said.
“So what?” Jean-Philippe probed.
“The incident was deemed premeditated and we deserved to be punished,” I said.
“You must be joking!” Jean-Philippe said.
“Joking? We were locked up and released without being questioned,” I said, adding that when we tried to find out why we were not asked even a single question, the criminal investigation officer told us we would have to spend another night in the cell if we really wanted to have our statements recorded.
“The MCP has a very bad past, indeed,” Jean-Philippe concluded.
“Yeah, but it’s the only party that holds the future of this country. Unlike others, it has paid enough for its dirty past. It is the only party that knows what Malawians wanted,” Native Authority Mandela said authoritatively.