What happened in Lilongwe on Independence Day, when organisers’ obsession with pleasing ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters led to the needless loss of lives, is not only regrettable but shameful.
More so because, when the nationalists fought for the freedom we are enjoying and taking for granted today, they were, in essence, fighting for equality.
Sadly, the people we entrust with delivering a public service to us, in this case those who were handed the responsibility of organising Independence Day celebrations this year, threw all caution — notably the wise suggestion to open Bingu National Stadium gates as early as 6am— to the wind in a bid to please party women.
If, indeed, these reports are true, then the country has risen so high on the scale of favouritism that our so-called freedom has lost meaning.
In fact, we are shocked that our esteemed public office bearers, who should know better, have decided to disregard Italian poet, Dante Alighieri’s wise words that freedom— which the nationalists fought for, at a cost of their physical wellbeing or their own lives— “consists of being ruled by reason and in living for the goal of mankind”.
It is clear, if the tragedy that befell us on Independence Day is anything to go by, that the people we look up to are neither being ruled by reason nor living for the goal of mankind— to the extent that they can go to any length to exclude others from national events, so long as ruling party followers get the cake.
What else can we say in the wake of reports that organisers of the Independence Day celebrations rejected advice from the police and Bingu National Stadium officials to open gates at six o’clock in the morning for fear that DPP women and cadets would not get seats in the facility?
To make matters worse, the practice of abusing resources of parastatal organisations is still being entertained, as evidenced by the fact that vehicles belonging to Lilongwe Water Board and Escom had already been mobilised to ferry women and party cadres to the venue. Not only were vehicles sent to ferry the party supporters, the stadium gates were even closed after being opened just to accommodate such supporters.
Let us remind, for the umpteenth time, public officials that this country belongs to all of us, and not a section of citizens who are aligned to the ruling party and those in power. In fact, the political parties that are at the helm should not ‘own’ national affairs because, to say the truth, they were not even there when selfless sons and daughters of this country fought for our independence.
Let us not discriminate others, based on political affiliation for, if the ship we call Malawi sinks, we all sink. The concept of equality should gain national currency. That way, we will avert catastrophes such as the stampede that claimed the lives of citizens of good will in Lilongwe.
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