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Echoes of July

 “A soothsayer

bids you

beware the ides of March”

Brutus in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

Not many have forgotten that July 19 day when gangs of thugs unabashedly rode in a certain party’s branded vehicles brandishing panga knives.

In a brutal show of force they would stop in the middle of the road in the heart of the city of Blantyre, alight from their trucks and sharpen their weapons of murder on the tarmac.

Hapless police officers helplessly watched in awe. These were untouchables. They were the law unto themselves. You touched them at your own peril. Ask police officers who were transferred to the remotest backwaters of the Republic for merely raising a finger against these folks.

The militia was out in full force to warn Malawians against heeding the clarion call by civil society leaders to come out in the streets to protest the excesses of power of a hitherto promising leader gone rogue.

Last Sunday’s blood curdling events at Goliati in Thyolo reminded many of that July day back in 2011. I mean, how does one butcher another in cold blood and expect a restful sleep at night?

I do not want to join the blame-game bandwagon. I do not think any leader in his or her rightful frame of mind can order thugs to butcher with axes the very cops they want to be Commander-n-Chief for.

That is why I commend the Rev. Lazarus Chakwera for embarking on a circuit of shuttle diplomacy, engaging fellow leaders to denounce violence ahead of the May 20 polls.

The mass rally organised by the Malawi Electoral Commission at Goliati yesterday was also a commendable initiative. But Mec should have gone one better. The electoral body should have invited Joyce Banda, Peter Mutharika, Chakwera and Atupele Muluzi to share the podium.

The symbolism of having Ama, Tate, Abusa and Bebe sharing the same podium could have had a lasting effect. Next time some thug wants to pack an exe in a bag to butcher a police officer, memories of Joyce Banda whispering cordially into the ear of Peter Mutharika, Lazarus Chakwera laughing at a joke with Atupele Muluzi can make him think twice.

Mec should take the Goliati peace rally to the headquarters of all major candidates. These peace rallies involving all the candidates should also be taken to all major venues like Njamba, Masintha and MzuzuFreedomPark. No cost should be spared to ensure a peaceful election.

Nobody wins from violence. Both DPP and PP are not looking good after the Goliati violence. Look now, DPP – fairly or unfairly – has to fend off accusations that it has not discarded its well-documented violent past.

PP, too, is being accused of retaliatory attacks on Mutharika’s aide Ben Phiri.

The truth in these accusations and counter accusations are neither here nor there. But instead of spurring on issues the two cousin parties are left fending off accusations of which one of them is the most violent…not an enviable contest, if you ask the Muckraker!

We have enough problems on our hands as a nation; we do not want violence to be among them. 

Peter should be able take pot shots at Ama at Malosa without stones raining on him. Ama, too, should be able to pick holes on Peter’s policies right at ChisokaVillage at Goliati without having the whole battalion of soldiers to cover her back.

Indeed Chakwera should be welcome at Ntaja any time, as should Atupele at Khongoni.

Malawi may be a small country but it should be enough for all the 15 million of us. We should not segment it. Nowhere in this Republic should be ‘no-go’ zones for anybody.

They say violence begets violence. It should also follow that peace begets peace. Why should we not try the latter?

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