I am appalled that in this time and era, our reformed Malawi Police Service (MPS) could still be wasting its meagre resources on covert surveillance of WhapsApp messages. What happened to the right to privacy as guaranteed by the Constitution?
Actually, I am annoyed that some government agencies should feel justified to be wasting millions of people’s taxes on such flimsy issues when government can’t source maize to feed the hungry and angry 2.8 million Malawians.
I cannot believe it that government is doing all this when its hospitals have no drugs, cannot feed patients, et cetera. These are basic things which every government ought to be providing to its citizens.
Why, with all the financial problems it is facing, should MPS really care about what people are discussing on whatsApp? Why should someone make it his or her career and source of bread and butter to use people’s tax and spend day and night peeping into other people’s private conversations?
The arrest and charging this week of opposition Malawi Congress Party officials Ulemu Msungama, Jessie Kabwila and Peter Chakhwantha with sedition, later changed to treason before Inspector General Lexten Kachama tried to add his spin on them by describing them as a mere caution statement just shows how confused some law enforcers are. I have a lot respect for Kachama, very sober minded and thoughtful, traits which all good police chiefs ought to have. But on this one, I suspect Kachama may not have been on top of things.
Whether the trio was merely called for a caution statement as he would have us believe, I strongly believe the police have better things to do. Bottom line is we still have some overzealous officers in the MPS who are bent on tarnishing the image of the service.
What is for sure is that the trio was charged with treason. However, it was only after law experts had faulted the police on the charges and bail that the police boss came round to absolve the law enforcers of the mistake. If Kachama is serious about what he is saying, he should have condemned his officers for prematurely bringing the charge against the trio.
But for bringing some semblance of sanity on the matter, I say that is the way to go. This whole fiasco is actually a non-starter, and the quicker it is abandoned, the better for your image and that of the reformed police you head bwana IG.
You have a futile and gargantuan task of convincing people that the arrests are not politically motivated, or meant to divert people’s attention from the real crisis facing the country—namely, hunger which has pushed millions of Malawians into untold suffering.
Averting hunger is what government ought to be spending people’s taxes on, not the fruitless schemes of intimidating people engaged in private chit chats.
Government should be channelling its energy towards arresting hunger which has taken residence in the homes of three million Malawians. What it is doing now is spending good money on bad. There is nothing worthwhile it will achieve on this.
How legal is surveillance and interceptions of private mail without specific legal authorisation by warrant, if I may ask? Isn’t this a blatant violation of the right to privacy as guaranteed by section 21 of the Constitution? Come on, we waved goodbye to such brutality when we kicked out autocracy in 1994.
MPS, which is in dire need of resources, should not overburden itself as well as other branches such as the Judiciary with unnecessary work.
And we are tired of these same old tricks of making people who are critical of government poorer and poorer with each passing day to hire lawyers to defend themselves in court for charges which do not make sense.
I hope all this Bwana Kachama will end just at that—a caution statement.