It must also be very clear, by now, to anyone who cares, that our country is deeply divided and treading in very dangerous waters.
We said all this before, but by now, if ever there were any doubts that the results of the May 21 elections and Justice Jane Ansah’s subsequent aloofness, have sent us on the precipice, the demonstrations in the streets; the vigils; the looting of shops; burning of government buildings; have provided a clear irrefutable evidence.
Vehicles have been stoned, police forced to abdicate from enforcing law and order. The military has been welcomed into the streets as heroes. Many are still trading in hate-speech, sometimes with tribal connotations, on Facebook.
The ruling party has reacted stupidly, sending thugs masquerading as party youths to scare off people from the streets.
The President, instead of sounding conciliatory, has told his critics, ‘he is not afraid of anyone’ and appointed a ‘business as usual’ Cabinet.
Our economy, small and already wobbling, faces a severe backlash.
Unwittingly or intentionally, our political leadership, on both sides of the divide, driven by egos and ambition or fear of losing power and usual subsequent criminal investigations, has led us to this dark chapter.
Both sides of the divide are using ordinary folks as pawns in a power struggle. But beyond their power struggle, ordinary folks are fighting a separate struggle for emancipation.
Some want an end to fraudulent elections; others are fighting misrule, period! And see the protests on the streets as an extension to the protest vote registered in the disputed elections. Over 60 percent of cast votes represented a resounding rejection of Mutharika’s policies.
That majority is now on the streets. Democracy isn’t just on crossroads, it’s on trial. With the military serenaded, democracy is on the knife edge for the military and democracy—experience shows–are not the best buddies for long.
The youths causing havoc have different causes, too. Mostly are idle and jobless, horny but broke, uneducated and hopeless. They are out to have fun, but also to protest their plight.
They care little about who won but just want change and hope that change will bring them good tidings. Despite being victims of successive incompetent administrations, they’ve elected to vent anger on Mutharika’s government for he is in charge now and has done little to inspire hope.
Now they are owning the election case as their own.
At which point you would hope the political leadership would stand up and be counted. It won’t, it will display the same indifference it displays whenever there calls for voices of reason to be held.
But this is a moment of reckoning. And it’s not going away.
Unbeknown to our President, there is a genuine outcry in the country for change. People don’t just want Ansah’s head, they want food on the table which currently scarce for majority poor, jobs for the youths, medicine in the hospitals, schools, a better future. If Mutharika was able to provide these, if the worsening corruption had not stolen these from the power, Chakwera and Chilima would be alone in their quest for power.
But in cities and villages, north, south, centre, people are raging. Mutharika can’t afford to be burry his head in the sand anymore. He must listen to them and ignore all the naysayers and sycophants (including corrupt advisors and ministers) lying to his educated self that all is well and all this is work of Chilima and Chakwera.
Without a reboot, without abandoning corrupt henchmen (Some now barred to enter United States for stinking corruption), even if he wins the election case, Mutharika faces a very long and sad end to his presidency.