ZAMBIA AND MALAWI

 

By Prof Danwood Chirwa
Today, in Malawi, evil has lost that eternal duel with good. Each time good wins, the net distribution of happiness increases exponentially in society. We’re witnessing an oubreak of happiness of the scale we haven’t seen in many years.

Prof Peter Mutharika, the outgoing President, still intent on holding his knee on the neck of innocent Malawians and despite having been voted out of office in a free and fair election, has contrived the most frivolous argument for rejecting the result. In his last act of unconstitutional behaviour, he has boycotted the swearing-in ceremony of the new President. To hand over power to a new president was the only legitimate reason Mutharika was kept in power for the last 13 months. During all that time he did all manner of things that were not within his constitutional mandate, but when called upon to discharge his main constitutional duty as interim President, he has bolted.

There can be no doubt that Mutharika has left the office of the presidency totally discredited, defeated, bitter and unfulfilled. But whatever pain he might be feeling for whatever reason, it doesn’t compare with the collective suffering he has caused to Malawians over the long period he has been close to and in possession of power.

His departure, dishonourable as it is, means that a heavy load of embarrassment has been lifted from the shoulders of academics and lawyers in general and legal scholars in particular. It has been hard to explain how someone with postgraduate degrees from Yale, who has lived in the United States for more than three decades and held a professorship at a credible university, could be so demonstrably incompetent, lawless, unprincipled, unethical, tribalistic, uninformed, incoherent, unfocused, clueless, unwise, petty, vengeful, greedy, and remorseless.

This man brings an end to a political career, starting in 2004, full of wasted opportunities and self-inflicted wounds and missteps. He has nothing good to show for the unique privilege he was accorded (except perhaps infantile gossip), only unhappiness and pain wherever he served.

As education minister, he aroused protracted mass staff protests on university campuses and targeted some of the most dedicated academics for revenge. When his elder brother died, he kept him artificially alive for two more days during which he was orchestrating an unlawful ursapation of a constitutionally mandated transfer of power. During his presidency, he governed according to his whim and those of his half-literate cabal whom he gave unchecked freedom to plunder. Worse still, he laid siege to the Constitution: he attacked the judiciary, he undermined parliament, and his executive became something approaching a council of a mob of gangsters. As corruption and looting became the main goals of his regime, the crime fighting agencies retreated into their shells, allowing free reign to criminals masquerading as politicians to do their dirty work unchecked.

For a self-acclaimed specialist in public law, Professor Mutharika has nothing to show by way of improvements to Malawi’s democracy, constitutionalism, the electoral system, judicial independence, parliamentary autonomy and freedom of civil society. His record will show that in fact he worked tirelessly to undermine all of these.

Let Mutharika be one more shining example that cheating does not pay; that no matter how long it may take, a regime based on tribalism and lawlessness meets its day and ends in defeat, pain and shame!

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