Watching the political temperature rise so fast and the bubbling tension that gripped the country for weeks was unnerving.
One feared it could all explode in an ugly way—owing to what we were seeing and hearing from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in particular.
Each day, there were people in DPP making one accusation against one member of the party or the other.
There were protests held and organised by one faction of the party against one member or the other. There were personal insults, threats and even alleged torching of a vehicle of one member.
The DPP seemed a party fast teetering, literary, on the blink for war. Everyone was baying for someone’s blood.
The president himself was not helping matters. His language was becoming too militant. In his most animated speech, to date, he threatened to crush his opponents, not in the opposition but within his own party, “like a tonne of bricks”.
It was raw anger. Something we seldom see from this President.
Something that was not supposed to be televised. He was not audible; even deciphering what he was saying was mentally taxing.
Just where was this leading to? Just how tumultuous could the elections turn out to be?
Thank goodness, though, there appears to be a new wind blowing and the temperature seems to be subsiding—thanks, in all consideration—to the departure from the DPP of Vice-President Saulos Chilima.
The president has some respite, the country has its peace. But until when. Soon, real campaign starts. While the convention can be ‘stage-managed’ in this manner, the national elections are cast in stone.
While the president has toned down and no longer giving venomous speeches which were reckless in many respects (For one, it could easily be misled as inciting violence in such a heated up environment and exposed the president as an out of control lunatic desperate for power), we know the situation can still explode.
For the country to continue the legacy of peaceful elections, we need more than a President who is not a lunatic.
In the past week, we clocked 25 years as a democracy, but there are concerns that the current administration is increasingly turning a blind eye to those attacking our democracy and itself turning to dirty tactics to silence its opponents.
For one, think about this other ruffian. The other day he went on Facebook to celebrate that he roughed up an innocent person, simply for wearing a cloth belonging to the opposition party.
In case you are lost, I am talking about a man who was filmed beating up a Malawi Congress Party (MCP) supporter for simply wearing his beloved party cloth. Despite the video going viral, the man has not been arrested.
This week, he went on Facebook to justify his hooliganism. Sadly, the police, the president, and even more sadly, the MCP leadership itself, has remained quiet about it.
The other day, some hoodlums also known as party cadets disrupted the President’s most important policy speech—the State Of the Nation Address (Sona) at parliament—simply because they wanted to intimidate his opponents. On the ‘day of shame’ as the country christened it; they beat up a journalist, fought with police and defied the sanctity of the Constitution by attempting to block a sitting member of Parliament from entering the house. They are still out there, bragging about their impunity.
And in this past week we celebrated our democracy, we once again saw the abuse of state machinery to silence those critical of this administration.
Again in the name of the President, the revenue collectors were called upon, by whoever, and tasked to go and torment the President’s political rival. Lewis Ngalande has never been a poster boy for progressive politics, but when suddenly, after exercising his constitutional right to call for a new leadership of this country and is suddenly swarmed by revenue collectors claiming huge unpaid taxes, we know it is an old script.
That script, ladies and gentlemen, smacks of cowardice and desperation. It’s also against the spirit of the democracy many people fought and died for before the 1994 victory.
To say what they want to say, to vote for whom they want to vote for, is a solemn right for all Malawians embellished in our cherished Constitution.
If the DPP wants to tamper with that, they might as well start packing their bags out of Capital Hill.