Honourable folks, recently I have recounted how intra party democracy has taken a turn for the worse in the former governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) since its leader APM plunged from grace in the court-sanctioned fresh presidential election last year.
Of course, most of these misfortunes stem from succession woes among different factions that are canvassing to replace the 80-year-old law professor, but some arise from the ‘bad’ decisions APM and his DPP cronies made while in power.
For instance, on Tuesday this week, the High Court in Lilongwe ordered sheriffs to seize property worth about K22 million belonging to APM and his former chief secretary Lloyd Muhara for ‘failing to pay legal costs’.
The two—both seasoned lawyers with APM as a professor of constitutional law for decades—were in November 2020 personally held liable for indecently attempting to force Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda and Justice Edward Twea to go for an early retirement.
In his determination, Justice Charles Mkandawire said APM and Muhara acted defiantly and that the two were careless to act outside their constitutional mandate in sheer disregard of the fundamentals of separation of powers and judicial independence.
The petitioners—Malawi Law Society (MLS), the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) and the Association of Magistrates in Malawi—then convinced the court to have APM and Muhara pay their legal costs on March 12.
But even after garnishing their bank accounts, where only K47 million out of the K69.5 million bill in party costs was realised, the respondents still fell short of the K22 million debt in penalties.
Hon. Folks, by the time I was writing this entry the court order had not been challenged by the defendants and sheriffs were yet to seize and sell all their moveable property except that which is exempted under the Sheriffs Act.
However, the seizure order against APM and Muhara by Kenyatta Nyirenda has set many tongues wagging with a small section of Malawians arguing that the ex-president and the former top civil servant are being politically persecuted.
However, I differ with the above narrative because that time many voices of reason warned Mutharika and Muhara against proceeding with their decision.
Remember the DPP administration attempted to forcefully remove the two justices of the Supreme Court of Appeal at the peak of political campaigns—barely a week or so before the June 23 fresh presidential election.
Prior to that, Mutharika and his DPP had taken turns protesting against the court’s decision to nullify his May 2019 controversial victory.
Actually after drinking too much power the two probably thought they possessed so much greatness to even flout the basics of rule of law and separation of powers.
This is why I say APM and Muhara are only paying the price of the arrogance demonstrated when they attempted to degrade members of the bench for fear of losing power in the elections at a time DPP was very unpopular.
Former president Bingu wa Mutharika (may his soul rest in peace) popularised the proverb that the past is for us to learn from, the present for us to manage and the future for us to change.
Yesterday we were talking about other people. Today it is APM and Muhara facing the music and tomorrow it may be a member of the Tonse alliance government.
My simple message to those in power today is that ghosts of the clandestine deals you are engaging in today are well alive and will always come back after you sooner or later.
We have seen politicians burying their skeletons while in power but they rarely succeeded to conceal their past forever. It will surely come back at you with a bang some day.