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Tremor after tremor

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Puludzu

Surprise! Surprise! Within a space of two weeks, Malawi has grabbed the limelight, both local and on the international scene, for all the wrong reasons.

First, it was the news about the country’s second citizen being arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau Ant- Corruption Bureau (ACB) on November 26, allegedly after pocketing 280,000 United States dollars. Before the dust had settled, in comes the dawn raid of the house of ACB Director General Martha Chizuma by Malawi Police Service on December 6 and her subsequent arrest, which we are told (if at all the authorities were being sincere) even President Lazarus Chakwera was not aware of.

I would not want to delve into the substantive issues relating to the two scenarios. Suffice to say that experts have already weighed in with a variety of opinions in that regard. It would be best to let those that are handling the Vice President’s case deliberate over it without any undue influence from the public. The same would have been said of Chizuma’s matter but, fortunately, we are told the powers-that-be moved in quickly to drop whatever had been commenced against her (in fact, this issue took centre stage in Parliament where legislators had pressed government to show proof that, indeed, the charges raised against Chizuma had been dropped). What, however, appeared to have rattled a lot of people are those proclamations by Capital Hill that they too were taken unawares.

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Now, if indeed both the President and the Minister of Justice were in the dark and, by extension— I presume the Minister of Homeland Security might have equally been taken unawares—then if that was the case, we must be a sorry people, to say the least.

It was several months ago when it became apparent that Chizuma and the country’s Director of Public Prosecutions (now suspended) Steven Kayuni’s working relationship had become strained and try as he could, Justice Minister Titus Mvalo could not immediately conjure up a winning formula until President Lazarus Chakwera put ‘a jet behind’ the minister, ordering him to ensure that sanity prevails in as far as the happenings between the offices of Chizuma and Kayuni are concerned.

The two had seemingly found some common ground through which they carried out their work, never mind some tension here and there, but the fact remains that many Malawians believed they had decided to leave the past exactly there; in the past.

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You can therefore appreciate the surprise and disgust that was prevalent in most parts of the country after people had gotten wind of Chizuma’s arrest. It is my conviction that this outpouring of concern and affection largely stemmed from the fact that the ACB chief has been steadfast in the battle being waged against corruption. Now, after all the suspense and drama, we can only hope the country is ready to move forward but, as to what the future holds in as far as the relationship between the ACB chief and the DPP is concerned, only time will tell. Or perhaps should we read much into insinuations by some that the issue could really be about personalities rather than the offices as a whole?

Another aspect that did not sit well with the public, especially civil society, was the alleged heavy-handedness of the police as we heard that there were many of them during the raid and that, apparently, Chizuma felt abused by some among those law enforcement officers. Hopefully, the commission of inquiry instituted by Chakwera should be able to get to the bottom of all the issues surrounding the incident. What an eventful two weeks we have had.

Stop being heartless

Another issue that obviously had people seething with rage was the barbaric behaviour that was displayed by some community members in Mzimba, under Senior Chief Kampingo Sibande’s area, who inflicted pain and misery on an elderly woman, whom they accused of bewitching her daughter-in-law.

I would not want to be dragged into the long drawn out debate of whether witchcraft exists or not. What I would want, just like most of you, is to see the refined witchcraft law being quickly deliberated upon in Parliament and, if deemed appropriate, endorsed by legislators.

Otherwise, what happened to that woman is unacceptable and no one deserves to experience such humiliation. Worse still, all this was happening during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based violence which have been concluded today. We can do better, fellow Malawians. What happened to being a peaceful people?

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