The fact that Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) successfully led demonstrators on the streets of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu against rising cost of goods on Thursday should be an indication to the PP government that no amount of fear mongering, emotional blackmail and other underhand dealings would stop Malawians from exercising their hard-won rights.
The Joyce Banda administration should not claim any credit from the peaceful conduct of the demonstrations as Minister of Information Moses Kunkuyu shamefully wants us to believe.
The reality is that this PP government, just like the DPP one in 2011, did not want Malawians to go on the streets and protest against poor economic governance.
It employed all sorts of underhand tactics including mobilising public opinion through use of empty propaganda on TV and print media. Since there is no shortage of gullibility in Malawi that has even infiltrated churches, the queue of faces wanting to make opinion against the Cama demonstrations grew by the day.
But it was all senseless and surprising. It was senseless because the Constitution guarantees peaceful demonstration, period. It does not say the protest can only be constitutional if it is approved by all Malawians or church groupings for that matter.
Why credible groups such as Malawi Council of Churches (MCC) would want to stick out their neck in such matters that border on limiting people’s enjoyment of democratic rights, only its leaders know. Suffice to say such a stand says a lot about the credibility of some of these groupings.
But all this is not surprising. Politicians all over the world adopt underhand tactics to herald citizens into submitting to their perilous whims.
When force has failed, they resort to propaganda and emotional blackmail as well as fear- mongering. They adopt policies that run counter to citizens’ well-being and cheat them it is necessary for their own good and that as patriots, they should allow it and see pain as their contribution to the effort to make things better.
What hits you immediately is that more often than not the politicians do not share in the suffering that they are calling for the people.
Is this not what is happening in Malawi? Has President Joyce Banda not flatly refused to slow down on travel to cut government expenses, yet she tells us the economic problems currently being experienced are a bad boil that needs to be removed; hence, the pain? Why does she refuse to share in the pain as the boil is being painfully extracted?
What about her ministers? Have they not refused to take even the smallest of pay cuts? Have they not refused to part away with the expensive-to-run Mercedez Benz, using the most of dumb of excuses that it is a fast car? Which car is slow, if I may ask?
When consumers through Cama said enough is enough, the PP government machinery went into overdrive, castigating John Kapito as an irresponsible person who does not know what he is doing.
They then used divide and rule to break the organisation of the demos with accusations flying that colossal sums of money changed hands to bribe some organisers who in the last minute threw in the towel.
Whether the money being talked about belongs to taxpayers or not is a story for another day.
Today, let us celebrate the triumph of democracy against toxic leadership. Whether the crowd that turned up was small does not matter. To me, even if it were only Kapito on the streets and he successfully delivered the petition to government, I could have been fine with it.
The big issue is telling our leaders that they cannot cherry-pick only the things they want and approve due to their selfish motives from our democracy handbook—the Constitution. This was done and democracy won.