Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place….. (and) government consists only of the people within or authorizing it, therefore it has no legitimate powers beyond those that people would individually have — Frédéric Bastiat
According to its website, the Malawi Police Service has a mandate, mission, and values that reads like any democratic country. Among them are: a mandate to “Protection of property, life, fundamental freedoms, and rights of individuals; Enforcement of all laws and regulations under which they are directly charged.
Its foresighted vision is that of “Creating a safe and secure Malawi,” a mission that categorically states that the Malawi Police Service working in partnership with the community and all stakeholders are committed to provide professional service of quality and magnitude in protection of public safety and rights of all persons in Malawi.” The Service also has the wonderful mission of“Independence and professionalism” (captured fromhttp://www.malawi.gov.mw/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=60&Itemid=47, on January 9, 2019).
Apart from the law ensuring that all people have a common standard of living, it also helps to keep them safe and enjoy their rights, which French philosopher Frederic Bastiat calls natural rights. With such a premise about law and the enforcers of the law (the police service), should not go about performing their duties in any way they did last Sunday by arresting members of an opposition political party.
Societies everywhere democratic governments are established, set up rules called laws, that guide how the people (citizens) will enjoy or exercise their rights (these are interchangeable with freedoms).
Bastiat also argued that “the rights that those individuals do have, which (are) recognized as natural rights, namely life, liberty, and private property,” and he said that government’s only legitimate role is to protect them” (Ibid).
All this is embracing in the democracies as the principle of the rule of law; a law that is always transparent and fair to all peoples, with no one being above the law. The purpose of such principle is to protect citizens, their property, ensure their access to various goods and services, including commodities, jobs and markets.
The principles are enforced by the Police Service and other arms of enforcement, hence its other name “law enforcement officers;’ such enforcement of the law keeps order and avoid chaos erupting, keeps peace, and resolves disputes.
The enjoyment of the rights of citizens is at a government elevation level. It is therefore, an abuse of the law, when the very same government fails to protect the rights of its citizens, for example through arbitrary arrest.
“The Government use of the Police to silence its opponents through such arrests as that of the UTM official, is an abuse of the law,” UNIMA political analyst affirmed. “No one is above the law, so the Police arresting people on grounds of their political convictions, is a travesty of justice,” he said.
Law enforcement officers should be enforcing the law, they should not be abusing it, human rights bodies held this week. The Police is abusing ordinary citizen’s rights by arbitrary arrests. They are arresting taxpayers.
“The Malawi Police in this democratic culture has behaved very unprofessionally by bowing to political powers,” a human rights lawyer said.
He said that Police are also abrogating the Constitution right to freedom of association, speech and conscience. On their part, politicians in power (control of government), are abusing the mandate of their respective offices.
“Both these (police and politicians) must know two things. First is that the people they are throwing in jail are tax payers; this makes them the employer because it is taxes that go towards paying salaries of police and politicians,” the lawyer said.
“Secondly, the abused person is a prospective voter,” he said.
That is so true. This cassava-eating mutu bii man of the soil, with political views and ties to that of the controlling political party, is the bossman or bosswoman. He or she is the bossperson of the gun-wielding, Prado or stiletto-clad politicians in Malawi.
Please stop putting in jails the opponents of the governing political party; stop causing accidents of opponents; stop harassing organizers of opposition political rallies; stop removal of staff from government positions; stop being over-zealous in your support of persons in political positions.
Police should be professional, so that after the 2019 elections, should or when political figures change, and new custodians take the reigns of power, it will not make us watch their needless eating of dust and “Salaam, Salaam” to new leaders.
Why can’t the Police Salaam, Salaam the Constitution and laws of Malawi? I have often wondered. This is largely because of the needs of the Police and the elected political leaders:
- To the Police: the people are your bosses; and
- Ii. To the elected politicians: the people are your voters.
This calls for both these sections of our government to treat te people with respect.
Last word to political die-hards: Please stop your over-zealous support to your leaders.
As Malawi enters campaign season in earnest, there is massive engagement of campaigning on the various communication mediums (newspapers, television, radio, and various forms of internet platforms known as social media). In all these the political jostling and jousting is getting overwhelmingly nasty as political supporters compete to outdo each other.
To these, I cry out: Please support your political leader without mud-slinging your opponents. For twenty-five years Malawians have been witnessing these battles and they are tired of them. When you look back 10 years, 20 years, or 30 years, you will be surprised at the various dance of Titans many politicians and their supporters have danced; some of them in this expansive time frame, have changed between two to three political parties.
As this column was about to be handed in, I found the following on social media, but has not been verified by The Maravi Post.
Three government officers have been suspended by the Ministry of Information for being suspected of leaking what was agreed during a meeting between MACRA, State House, Malawi Police and Information Minister. During the meeting, MACRA was instructed to block internet access country wide from 18 May to 25 May 2019 to prevent the public and opposition monitors from sharing events taking place during elections. MACRA was further requested to reconnect the internet on the day MEC will be announcing results. The 3 suspended officers include Driver, Secretary and Administrative Officer.
Arbitrary dismissals of government staff must stop!
Jayzedkay wise words to the political supporters are that “what looks like vomit today, may become your main Meal tomorrow.” Supporters instead of getting personal, should try criticizing each other’s positions on issues. This makes better interesting debate points as opposed to who is sleeping with who’s girlfriend.
Long live genuine democracy!