After having stayed in Africa for a long time, a BBC reporter once said that one cannot underestimate the power of an African. He had noticed that in Africa one can be a nobody today only to be a Head of State the next day. Experience has shown that this is very true.
In Malawi it can as well be said that no one, including all manner of leaders, should underestimate the power of Malawians. Experience has clearly shown that just before the elections Malawians are highly respected by people vying for power. As it were, such respect which is for buying votes, vanishes as soon as election results are out. Once voted into power, the winners automatically relegate voters into dishonourable positions. Those in power even think that voters no longer have any power to even question the conduct of leaders. Power seems to corrupt leaders to the extent of having a habit of dishing out threats by saying that they will deal with whoever tries to question their authority. Leaders have given themselves so much self-importance and end up thinking that they are above the law.
Meanwhile, what happened at Mzuzu High Court recently has proved that no one in this country is above the law. Indeed, activist Charles Kajoloweka and some three civil society organisations (CSOs) made history in Malawi by obtaining a high court injunction to suspend Honourable George Chaponda who is the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development. This injunction was to allow for smooth investigations being carried out on the Zambia Maizegate of which Chaponda is alleged to have been involved. Chaponda is one of the most senior ministers in the Peter Mutharika government. The injunction came about after it was reported that the minister categorically refused to resign or step aside until the Maizegate inquiry is done.
Honestly speaking, the injunction on minister Chaponda is a clear testimony of people power. Whoever underestimates the power of Malawians does that at his own peril.
Some people might argue that the injunction served on Chaponda is a bad precedence which might see most people flocking to courts to get injunction for any leader, including their members of Parliament (MP) that they do not like for unknown reasons. Such fears have no basis. In the first place, the High Court judges do not work like robots and, therefore, cannot just give injunctions willy-nilly without any backing. Judges are learned men and women who will indeed consider issues on case by case basis.
In fact, the injunction on Chaponda is a wakeup call to most leaders who are put in power by people to always think that there will always be a way of getting that power back. Most MPs in this country become too comfortable and do not care about whether they deliver their promises or not because there is no recall provision in our Constitution. Therefore, they think people have no power to get rid of them in mid-term. The injunction served on Chaponda should teach leaders a lesson that they should not underestimate people power. If Malawians managed to get rid of the most feared dictatorship of Kamuzu Banda, what else is there that they have no power to deal with? n