Thursday, July 13, 2006


The author of this article seemingly seem to be contradicting himself when after being given a full opportunity to air his views, failed to acknowledge that this can only happen in a democratic society.

Of course there is plenty to digest from the exposition titled EROSION OF DEMOCRACY and there should be no rush to judgment. One of the best assets of democracy is that it allows or rather creates a platform and a market place of views. For democracy to thrive, it is therefore important that voices even those perceived misguided are give a chance to be heard.

For this reason, I want to rebut this false presentation of “Malawi’s perceived erosion of democracy” and wish to argue that contrary to this unshared view; Malawi’s democracy has advanced and is progressing in the right direction.
It is by now well-known that the UDF is promoting its political case with the claims whichare largely misleading at times outright lies.

Despite the fact that genuine cases in violation of the law have been successfully prosecuted, their propaganda machinery continues to label them as political with other cases, instances of human rights abuse. Indeed, an examination of other claims advanced by this machinery suggests a pattern of lies and deception on the part of top UDF officials.

The UDF party through their organized propaganda machinery continue to contend that Malawi is tilting towards a dictatorial regime because according to their beliefs, former ministers and party echelons are not supposed to be taken to court. The party’s spokes person Mr Mpasu made a chilling admission which saw him heaping praises in favor of Dr Wamutharika as a states man. His measure of statesmanship came only when the UDF corrupt politicians are exempted from facing justice.
In so doing, the party denies the chaotic part played by the Bakili led administration which Prof Thandika Mkandawire’s characterize as “ democratization of corruption” when he argues thus:

“Bad Governance” is a euphemism for corruption.On the political front, Malawi emerged from the dark days of Banda but was still saddled by elements of a political class that had basically been nourished by the Banda regime. Their instinct was fundamentally anathema to democracy and their perception of political office was unscrupulous and avaricious. We never had a “Truth Commission” to exorcise the bad spirits of the past.

In a short span of time, Malawi moved down the internationally constructed corruption indices. Self-aggrandisement had led to amassing of wealth by a political class that was now unrestrained by Banda’s centralized state theft. It is as if the advent of democracy had freed corruption.
Corruption will not end overnight in Malawi. However, it has become clear to all Malawians that the scourge of corruption must be brought to a halt. People now clamour for

“zero tolerance” of corruption, to borrow a phrase from President Mutharika. What is important is that there now seems to be serious intention to begin addressing the problem.”

In the paragraphs that follow, UDF propaganda machinery claims are subjected to scrutiny, with particular attention paid to the accuracy of the claims in relation to the establishment of democratic Malawi.
Closing the Scottish –Malawi partnership conference in Edinburgh, Sir David Steel commented on the progress made in as far as democracy is concerned in Malawi
“I should perhaps explain that with my Kenyan background, I first went to Malawi at the instigation of the Church of Scotland and our foreign office.

Their view was that since both president Banda and I were church elders and graduates of Edinburgh university, I could perhaps talk to him about human rights,multi-partyism and other easy topics.
it was not a success

I was refused to visit Orton Chirwa who was in prison without trial and who died there before my second visit.
Dr Banda was very old and very deaf. I was followed few months later by Lynda Chalker, then minister for overseas development and Africa. I told her my efforts were not successful and she said they could not have been worse than hers.

After twenty minutes in which she indicated her majesty's government views on changes required in his policies, Dr Banda leaned forward and asked
“And which part of America do you come from?
Indeed every Malawian knows that Dr Banda’s human rights record was appalling. The system of repression exacted a heavy price. Who ever was seen as a threat to the government or aired dissent was suppressed.
As Dr Heiko Meinhardt and Dr Nandin Patel explained in their exposition of

“Malawi’s process of Democratic transition”
The MYP and the police under the instruction of the political leadership were empowered to detain anyone without trial. Others were tried in traditional courts without legal representation and some were even murdered in fabricated “car accidents” In 1976 the religious denomination of Jehovah’s witnesses was declared an unlawful society. Its members were targets of massive repression and thousands were imprisoned”

As stated above, civil and political rights did not exist. Basic rights such as freedom of expression, freedom of information and the rule of law were barbarically and unashamedly violated. The censorship act and the information monopoly of the regime compromised the right of free access to information more over the reporting of false or damaging information about Malawi was considered a criminal offence punishable with life time imprisonment.

Contrary to that dark age is the emergence of freedom of expression to its fullness.
We have seen false information and potentially damaging information denting the image of Malawi being published on the internet and local media without reactions.
Last year, Mr Sam Mpasu [a UDF spokes person]went against all odds to attack his own government by supplying false information to a Scottish tabloid results for which ended with a hostile media reception for the Malawi leader who was visiting the Scottish people but nothing happened to him

During the Scottish Malawi conference one Malawian son in the name of Dr John Lwanda fiercely criticized the visiting president during one of his BBC interviews
He went further to express his unpopular views in the conference this time attacking the Scottish executive for gagging him. A few weeks ago, Dr Lwanda went to Malawi and while there he had a chance to meet some of influential politicians in the current administration who were part of the Malawian delegation to Scotland and chatted over a number of issues. Nothing happened to him and he returned to his Scottish base safely.Not surprising indeed that in one of his postings, he lamented thus:

“Like him or love him,Dr Wamutharika will go down in history as the most transparent leader in Malawi’s history

We have made a remarkable journey. The Malawian community may strongly held and differing opinions on both the presenting issues and their underlying causes and we have not been afraid to discuss those views openly and honestly in our efforts to understand the machinations of government and politics. But equal to all of this is our central belief that the forty-two years ago, democracy was perceived as dissenting.

As a hallmark of our endeavor, I believe that it Is important to mirror the values of the present Democracy in the context of our past with an aim – to look for healing not division, for pastoral reconciliation and not punishment, to look to our shared witness not only in our mission but in the processes by which our vested interest in our democracy works out the current tensions

Bright Mac E.Malopa

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