The fatalistic cost of executive arrogance
Who would believe that on a date like this last year, our streets were turned into war zones of running bloody battles between police and civilians? Like in a war-torn nation just within a space of two days 20 lives were lost.
Who can forget that on July 20 last year, something despicable happened? Frustrated and fed up with bad governance, economic mismanagement and human rights abuses, citizens of this peace-loving nation said enough is enough and decided to vent their anger against autocracy.
The messages sent to our autocratic leaders were clear. Besides the numerous human rights violations, people were protesting government's failure to control a runaway economy characterised by acute forex and fuel shortages that, in turn, resulted in sky-rocketing prices of goods and services.
Government's utter arrogance over constitutional rights that resulted in the withdrawal of donor aid never helped matters. Instead of acting like a proactive government by moving fast to apply liniment to the festering diplomatic wounds, the former regime became more arrogant by among others expelling the British High Commissioner.
Unfortunately all those incidents, diplomatic gaffes and the overzealous display of executive arrogance were done against the people's wishes.
After many months of tolerating such impunity and recklessness, the citizenry mobilised by the civil society flooded the streets on July 20 to demonstrate against tyranny. And what did the despots say? "We will meet on the street."
The threats from the enemies of democracy set the stage for a bloody encounter and when the day finally came what followed were teargas, arrests, looting and killings. The once peaceful Malawi was on fire. The outcome was heartrending. Blood and sorrow, anger and disillusionment engulfed the entire nation.
Today, a year later, a breeze of freshness wafts in all sectors of the society. There is a new administration which has started on a good note. Bad laws have been repealed. Donors are back with their stethoscopes and the economy is being shaken to life on its death bed. The country has chance to bounce back to an all time healthy position. It has also all chances of turning in reverse to those dark hours of July 20 because many politicians never learn from the mistakes of their predecessors. The script remains the same: Executive euphoria, promises of reconciliation, good diplomacy, then resort to arrests of rivals, immersion in corruption, power intoxication, executive arrogance, political madness and then their downfall.
As those in power play around with the Constitution, freedoms and economy, for the personal, political and material gains, they should not forget that the docile Malawians can lose their patience with poor leadership style and rise up. Let us not forget the events of that gruesome day. The dead we buried had the right to be alive today, but they are in the grave because of executive arrogance.
May the souls of those who died on July 20 rest in eternal peace.