John Kapito drove me from Capital Hotel in Lilongwe to our offices somewhere along Chilambula road early last year. We discussed a number of issues. But it was a discussion about his wife’s reaction to his activism that I hardly forget.
He narrated, jokingly, about how the wife, inquisitively, asked why he was always on the neck of the Bakili Muluzi administration.
He added that the wife even wondered: “Munalandana mkazi, chani?’ I don’t know how much of such questions the wife is asking today after her husband’s nasty stint with Bingu wa Mutharika’s administration and, recently, with Joyce Banda.
Sometimes because of Kapito’s activism, I begin to fault the adage that says the only thing that doesn’t change is change itself. We really need to substitute the word ‘change’ for ‘Kapito’. We should be saying the only thing, in terms of holding government accountable, that doesn’t change is Kapito.
That is why I get surprised when presidential spokesperson Steve Nhlane goes to town on Kapito these days. Nhlane knows that Kapito has always been what he is to Banda’s administration today.
As a human rights activist, Kapito—I don’t know why—has always chosen to be on the side of the vulnerable. I am sure, given the corrupt nature of our system which easily swallows some of the country’s revered activists, Kapito might have, at once or often, been caressed by these whispers. His unwavering stand, however, tells a story of a stubborn activist.
But this, I should underline, doesn’t make him an angel. He has flaws—sometimes quite tragic. His activism, I am beginning to note, comes out with strong anarchist views. He appears like a latter-day Mikhail Bakunin—a Russian thinker.