Since Malawi got independence, every government has had its sacred cows, the untouchables who don’t fear the law. They don’t fear the law because the law enforcement agencies can not dare touch them. These untouchables get their power from the president.
They are not elected. Neither are they empowered by the constitution to act with absolute impunity. Nonetheless, they weird a lot of power.
We have had the Malawi Young Pioneers (MYP), Ayufi, young democrats and cadets. They terrorized innocent citizens with impunity. The law never applied to them and the police feared them. In fact, sometimes the police themselves were victims of these thugs. But they are all gone. The mighty power of the vote dismantled them.
One year after the change of government, a new bleed of untouchables is emerging. They don’t paint themselves. They don’t wear party colors. They are not members of President Lazarus Chakwera’s Malawi Congress Party (MCP).
In fact, bonafide MCP members hate them. Akuti sanasonkhe nawo for the 26 years MCP was in opposition. They are pastors. Chakwera’s pastor friends. He loves them. He trusts them. They are his fixers. These pastors have been offered jobs and business opportunities by a president who promised change. A president who once denounced nepotism, cronyism and corruption but has delivered the same ills with a dose of carefully crafted stunts to fool the masses, including some intellectuals.
One such friend of the president is Pastor Martin Thom. Instead of being known for preaching, his meteoric rise to fame was through smuggling a loan authorization bill to parliament.
According to President Chakwera, this was done without his knowledge. Of course only fools can believe that, or those who are blinded by his excellent stunts. When the media reported about the bill debacle, Malawi Police quickly arrested the pastor and Chakwera fired him from his position of ‘presidential advisor on special duties’, whatever that means.
The nation soon learnt that Pastor Thom immediately got bail and left the country! According to the Sunday Times, the pastor was released in just three hours after being arrested! This is simply unbelievable. In a country where suspects are tossed from one police station to another, tortured and humiliated for 48 hours before their lawyers fight for their right to bail, it is surprising how this could happen.
Even the police are tight-lipped on whether Pastor Thom was actually arrested or not. He is a sacred cow. The president’s blue-eyed boy. The police don’t want to burn their fingers. Pa ground sipalibwino kale, including inside police compounds.
Compare Pastor Thom’s treatment by the law enforcement with how they treated Executive Director of Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI), Sylvester Namiwa. He was arrested at Parliament Building in Lilongwe while he led a peaceful vigil to demand an explanation on how the
controversial Loan Authorization Bill was smuggled into parliament.
The rights activist was arrested by plain-clothed ‘policemen’, shoved and bundled into a civilian minibus belonging to National College of Information Technology (NACIT). The identity of the ‘policemen’ in a video clip that is circulating on social media is still being verified with some people saying they are MCP’s strongmen that bypassed the uniformed policemen.
Those who watched the video of his arrest would be forgiven if they thought an armed robber was being arrested.
Namiwa was taken to a remote magistrate court for bail hearing after 48 hours. He was released on bail and told to surrender his travel documents. This is what common Malawians go through.
Pastor Thom’s special treatment just shows that his firing was just one of the many public stunts the president has performed to save face.
Deep down the president’s heart Pastor Thom remains his trusted friend and fixer. Chakwera can not let such a friend face the law or be treated the same way other suspects are treated by law enforcement.
There is one set of invisible laws for Chakwera’s cronies and another for common Malawians. Chakwera must know that this is what Malawians fought against in the 2020 presidential elections and he can not get away with such unfair application of the
A day is coming when he will pay for his sins. It’s coming sooner than he thinks.