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Greed driving anti-death penalty campaign

Dear Pain

On the surface, policymakers may look almost celebratory.

Inside, however, they have conflicting emotions.

More so because, for the most part of Malawi’s post-independence period, people have pretended to be what they are not.

In fact, people have learned to be what they are not, making them among the top pretenders in the world.

For the most part, this is because of poverty, which has turned otherwise honourable people into yes-men and women.

Take, for instance, the issue of the death penalty.

As is the case with every piece of legislation, there must have been good reasons why lawmakers agreed to pass legislation that had provisions providing for the death penalty.

They wanted it to act as a deterrent to would-be killers.

They wanted to tell the Malawian people that murder is detested.

What I like about the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi is that, in its preamble, it mentions something about the sanctity of life.

It says, in the preamble: “THE PEOPLE OF MALAWI— recognising the sanctity of human life and the unity of all mankind; guided by their private consciences and collective wisdom; seeking to guarantee the welfare and development of all the people of Malawi, national harmony and peaceful international relations; desirous of creating a constitutional order in the Republic of Malawi based on the need for an open, democratic and accountable government: HEREBY adopt the following as the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi.”

And, then, in Section 16, there is a provision on the right to life.

It goes: “Every person has the right to life and no person shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her life: Provided that the execution of the death sentence imposed by a competent court on a person in respect of a criminal offence under the laws of Malawi of which he or she has been convicted shall not be regarded as arbitrary deprivation of his or her right to life.”

There we go. The Republican Constitution explicitly says that the execution of the death sentence imposed by a competent court of law should not be regarded as arbitrary deprivation of life.

Surprisingly, those that have turned the anti-death penalty campaign into a cash cow— there are some people who are making the loudest noise simply because they make their bread and butter by crying the loudest like that— claim that when a competent court executes the death sentence, then it is arbitrarily depriving the convict of his or her right to life.

They deliberately bend facts because they want to continue feeding their tummies with anti-death penalty money.

They want to continue constructing houses— mansions—with anti-death penalty money.

They want to be driving around in posh cars bought with anti-death penalty money. The fuel guzzlers also thrive on petroleum products bought with anti-death penalty money.

You know it, Dear Pain, that the anti-death penalty campaign is big money.

Using that money, unsuspecting people— farmers and poor women and hapless elderly people— are made to believe that the death penalty is bad.

How can something be bad when a competent court has proved, beyond reasonable doubt, that someone committed murder, sending others to an early grave?

Shame on you, anti-death penalty money makers.

I am saying all this because anti-death penalty money has been talking. It has been talking at Capital Hill, the seat of the government.

It has been working among non-State actors.

Money talks. Especially anti-death penalty money.

As at now, the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs has drafted a bill which would go under stakeholders’ scrutiny before it can be taken to Cabinet.

The government, which is letting anti-death penalty money talk but, then, pretending to not be influenced by the [anti-death penalty money] same, has organised a one-day consultative conference on the abolition of the death penalty in Lilongwe today.

This is according to a letter dated January 20 2023.

Among those invited are State actors and non- State actors.

This is despite that, since the re-advent of multiparty politics in 1994, no President has signed the death warrant.

In August last year, President Lazarus Chakwera commuted 22 convicts who were on death row to life imprisonment.

He became the second leader after Bakili Muluzi to commute to life imprisonment death row inmates.

This means, already, our leaders have been doing the needful.

So, why are anti-death penalty advocates behaving as if everyone that has the death penalty on their head has been dying? Do not worry; anti-death penalty money talks.

Meanwhile, the family of 12-year-old girl Praise Mafotetsa, who was brutally murdered last Monday, has been failing to come to terms with the reality of the death and have asked police to ensure that justice is served on the matter.

Last Tuesday, the country woke up to the disturbing news of the passing of the young girl, whose body was found a day after she went missing.

Before she was dumped along a river, she had clothes stacked in her mouth, defiled and, then, murdered.

Today, the father— Story Mafotetsa—and mother Annie Mafotetsa cannot understand what the ruthless murderers did to their daughter.

Their home—Kasembereka Tea Estate along the Makwasa Road in Thyolo— has become a place of tears.

When the girl left for school— Mtambanyama Primary— on January 16 2023, they were hopeful that they would meet her again.

It was not to be.

Today, as they pray for justice, someone whose pockets have been lined up with anti-death penalty money will be speaking— shamelessly and heartlessly— that the lives of those that killed Praise should be saved.

Dear Pain, Malawi has no room for such heartlessness.

Once caught, those murderers deserve nothing but instant death. Of course, after a competent court of law deliberates on the issue.

As for anti-death penalty advocates; eat the money but do not play with our emotions.

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