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Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Violence is no solution to misunderstandings

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Malawians have come from far since the re-introduction of multiparty politics of governance in 1994 and may as well be described as politically mature because 23 years, or so, of democracy is no mean achievement.

Sadly, our journey has, time and again, been dented by acts of violence. This violence manifests itself during elections as hooligans sponsored by ruling parties unleash violence on hoodlums supported by opposition parties. So, instead of turning the elections’ period into the platform of idea-sharing, we do the opposite by turning it into a stone-throwing and panga-wielding platform.

Sometimes, even when we are steeped in principles of democracy, which promotes respect for human rights and the rule of law, we take the law in our hands through mob justice. Many a time, many people have been severely injured or, at worst, lost their lives to mob justice.

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And, to show our level or primitiveness, some of these cases relate to witchcraft accusations. Despite the laws of this country not recognising witchcraft, some community members always want to appear more knowledgeable than framers of the law and, in their overzealousness, turn on innocent people such as the elderly.

What makes us belabour this point is the behaviour of the people of Mwenilondo in Karonga District, who vented their anger on police officers who visited the area to apprehend people suspected of torching the house of an elderly couple which was accused of practising witchcraft.

To say the truth, this is counter-productive, more so because the people of this area are known for their violent acts, especially during elections. Countless times, these people have been in the news for wrong reasons because of their failure to appreciate that dialogue is the key to coexistence.

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After all, the country has sound systems, in terms of a functioning Judiciary, Legislature and Executive, and it is only fair to give the government branch responsible the benefit of the doubt. If the suspects are innocent, they will be acquitted in a court of law. If they are not, it is the court of law that will say. But people have no business obstructing the wheels of justice.

It is high time the people behind the violence realised that the country has laws and those laws have to be given the leeway to take effect; otherwise, we run the risk of turning into a lawless society.

Acts of violence give democracy a bad name and must not be condoned in a lawful society.

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