At every point of President Peter Mutharika’s government, it is very important to remind the leadership that the government is for the people of Malawi. Since the attainment of multiparty democracy in 1994, people have freely been commenting on how best they prefer to be governed. It is wrong for anyone to say that people are just making noise for nothing when they are complaining about their government.
Recently, Mr. Mabvuto Bamusi who is the special presidential adviser on civil society group and NGOs said that civil society organisations (CSOs) are just making unnecessary noise. This was after a number of CSOs raised concerns on the suffering of Malawians which range from food shortages to lack of medicines in government hospitals. Honestly, this cannot be empty noise. It is not imaginary that people are suffering. In fact, no form of any intimidation can put down peoples voices. Even the President has tried to shut up critics of his government by saying that all this nonsense of a questioning his administration has to stop. But people still pin point at his weaknesses. This is what a government for the people is all about.
Indeed people’s voices still continue, especially through demonstrations. Sometimes it is clear that the government has run out of ideas on how to stop such demonstrations except to counteract them. Counteracting measures are just there to save face of government as they are hurriedly put together. For example, recently people of Rumphi organised a demonstration about lack of food at their district hospital. This triggered an impromptu arrangement by Hon Jappie Mhango and a colleague who brought some maize and beans to the patients at the hospital. Why did the minister wait for the day of the demonstrations in order to bring food to the hospital? Honestly, this was more of a window dressing exercise than genuine help. If people had not demonstrated would the minister have brought the food to the hospital? Maybe this was a way of intimidating people not to resort to demonstration because help from government is around the corner. If this is the way the President Peter Mutharika administration thinks, then it can be said that it operated at a very elementary level.
Even the style of organising counter demonstration when CSOs are demonstrating does not make any sense at all. If government supporters/sympathisers are genuine why can’t they arrange their own day to demonstrate?
Of late, President Peter Mutharika seems to think that the best way to intimidate his critics is to shout at them as he did when they queried him about the bloated entourage to United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Despite the President emphasising that the “nonsense” of criticising him must cease, critics have not stopped. In fact, they cannot stop because criticisms sometimes help. For example, these days, the government spokesman tells the nations about the number of people accompanying the President on external travel, which was not the case before.
Sometimes the government desperately think of ways to silence critics. It seems one of the ways is not saying the truth. The latest example is the ATI bill. The President promised in his speech in Parliament that the bill will be tabled. Sadly, that was a lie as media reports that the Cabinet had thrown the bill out. The government should be reminded that no lie can silence them. People will continue to fight until the bill is presented and passed.
Any government in Malawi which wastes time strategising on how best to silence Malawians is bound to fail completely. People of this country know very well what they were fighting for in bringing democracy. They will not allow to be cheated or intimidated. n