Who will get the flak?

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I ended my entry last week with an appeal to the powers that be to desist from engaging in petty and unnecessary fights with the likes of Lucius Banda. Not that I expected anyone to listen to me, or any voice of reason for that matter. I know better than that. And the crusade on the Balaka North parliamentarian seems to have gone into full swing what with both government and the UDF ganging up on him.

You see, the mediocrity of our politics sickens me a lot. People queue to vote for people to lead them and instead of focusing on the business of governing, working to improve the lot of the poor folks in the villages, the elected leaders devote their time to self-preservation. They have more energy for hunting down their enemies, real or perceived, than they do for working for the good of the nation.

And they are not ashamed of going to very ridiculous lengths of depravity to get at their adversaries. There is a lot of misdirected creativity aimed at getting one over the opponent. Did we not hear only last week the High Court dismissing a case in which the ruling types were trying to have some opposition figures behind the bars on treason charges based on some purported social media conversation?

Now, look at this. How did the conversation get into the hands of the authorities who were conned into thinking they had something to get at the opposition? There are several schools of thought, but they all point at a paranoid leadership that is more worried about what its opponents are doing than winning over the people that put it in the position of power.

It is either someone sat down and fabricated that conversation or someone illegally snooped into the conversation. The more unlikely situation is that one of the parties to the conversation gave it away to the authorities for some personal gain. None of this would have been possible if there was an impression that this government brooks no nonsense, but when one sees the desperation within the corridors of power all manner tomfoolery is possible.

So, there they were, sitting down and celebrating that they had a case that would send shivers down the spine of opposition politicians. They will not only have some of their colleagues in prison, but they would also be afraid of discussing anything sensitive through social media. That way the opposition would be under some control. In the words of the late Bingu wa Mutharika, they should be shaken a bit.

See the cost of all that. State resources that would have been used for real pursuit of justice have been wasted on this case. Not just money but there was some government lawyer who was on this case, there were some police officers involved, to say nothing of the court personnel that found themselves handling this case. All this has cost the taxpayer and the wider public in one way or another. It is an abuse of power and public resources.

And the cost does not end there. The court has not only dismissed the case for the frivolity it was, it has gone further to award costs for the case to the accused. The taxpayer is now going to bear the brunt of this imprudent case. In a country where resources are at a premium this is almost criminal because these MCP officials, much as they deserve their payday, should not be getting that money.

Elsewhere, someone should have been getting the flak for this. Whoever made this costly decision, whether it was an individual or a group of overzealous cadets, should have been facing the music for costing government so needlessly. But it would be overly optimistic to expect any action on the perpetrators of this act. For all I care, they could have been rewarded already with one these politically motivated appointments.

When a leadership is so obsessed with the opposition, be it an opposition party, a media house or some civil society activist, there is inevitable loss of focus. Things that really matter are overlooked. Leaders are busy mobilizing gullible traditional leaders and bogus non-governmental organization leaders to go on public airwaves to say things no one pays attention to. The only winners, if at all, are the pockets of these mercenaries.

And without realizing it you discover another election is just around the corner. Already, the Malawi Electoral Commission has announced the calendar for the 2019 tripartite elections. Those in power will then become aware of the fact that they have not gone far enough in delivering on their promises of the previous election. That breeds more desperation and cue more paranoia.

Instead of going back to the voter with a record of achievements, politicians who wasted their time fighting their opponents have nothing to offer on that front and end up getting into more mischief, speaking more on the deficiencies of their rivals and making life difficult for them to operate freely. We may get more trumped up charges, more abuse of the public airwaves and other forms of victimization of the opposition or their supposed sympathisers.

I will not tire to remind politicians that the electorate does not vote for leaders to give them a job, they want the leaders to do a job for them. It is betrayal of trust and outright immoral to ignore that and use the mandate received from the polls to serve narrow partisan and personal interests. When people vote for a leader or political party, they are not handing over public resources to them, the voters want leaders to use the resources for the public good. Fighting opponents is not in the public interest.

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