Violence of any form and irrespective of who perpetrates it has no room in a democracy and must therefore be condemned in the strongest terms possible.
What happened at Goliati, in Thyolo, is therefore unfortunate, barbaric and should never be allowed to happen again. Worse still, the loss of two lives leaving destitute widows to assume the headship of their families, is in itself sad and unfortunate. However, it is easy to condemn the barbaric behavior and hope that it will not repeat itself.
Many commentators have condemned who they think were responsible for this unfortunate saga, while others are attempting to exonerate themselves from the saga. The question is, can we end this unfortunate conduct by blame and counter blame games? Well, if you ask me, this is my point of departure, as I believe that the only way to successfully address this issue and avoiding its reoccurrence in future, is to address fundamental questions, which touch on, the causes or causative agents of the violence.
However, before an examination of the causes, certain facts with respect to the Goliati violence, need to be outlined. These facts are, the ‘development rally’ in question was organized by the PP administration, and therefore they were responsible for ensuring security and safety of the people attending the rally.
Another fact is that one of the speakers at this rally opted to abandon the issues and opted for bad mouthing, castigations and insults to one opposition leader. Yet another fact is that Goliati is the home of the late President, Ngwazi Professor Bingu wa Mutharika and that the death of Bingu robbed the people of Goliati, a hero, father, friend, mentor and this was clear by the confusion, frustration and sorrow that engulfed the people of Goliati and Thyolo, and the entire Lhomwe belt, due to the death of Bingu.
While the majority of people in Thyolo may have DPP as their preferred choice of a party, BUT Thyolo is not DPP. Another fact that should also not be omitted is that many organizations including analysts have always advocated for issue based campaign as opposed to castigations and mud-slinging, this was equally echoed by the Chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission, Maxon Mbender, SC. during nominations.
In view of this, the notion that the fracas in Goliati, was between the PP and the DPP, is misplaced, rather this was an issue between PP and the people of Goliati. The PP administration has always castigated the late Bingu, at any opportunity possible. They have always attacked the Professor Peter Mutharika and anything associated with him, when opportunity arise. Now to take such insults right at his home, was well being naïve, insensitive and worse still overstretching the patience of the people who viewed him as their hero.
There have been unconfirmed reports that PP boys were singing such songs as “Ng’ombe imapheredwa pa khola pake pomwe, tabwera ndi police ndi army yathu, upita ngati mkulu wako.”
Now, come to think of that song, what can it trigger?
The point here is not to justify the violent reaction, rather to bring out a fact that the organizers of the ‘development’ rally should have advised its youths not to provoke others.
By the way, isn’t it expecting too much from the villagers in Goliati, if the whole ruling party machinery resolves to chant provocative songs, spiced by derogatory utterances of the people they hold with high esteem and their own BUT expecting the villagers to exercise RESTRAINT?
Who was better placed to tread cautiously between the ruling party operatives and the villagers at Goliati? While it may be sweet news to the DPP opponents to dent the party’s’ image based on this issue, the people who reacted badly at Goliati are individuals who were angered by the provocative proceedings at the rally, it wasn’t PP against DPP, rather PP versus villagers of Goliati.
Obviously, it is sweet news to the DPP opponents to brand it a party of violence, as that may be viewed as reducing its chances of winning the elections, BUT all those who rush to condemn DPP should pause and reflect on the DANGER of not rebuking those that fueled the situation, as that will be tantamount to rewarding the perpetrators of this anarchy.
“Remember, if you steal and somebody else is accused of that, you are encouraged to steal once more as you know it will be somebody else being blamed for it”.
The people of Goliati lost their hero, father, mentor, friend and that alone caused enough pain among these people. It does not therefore make political sense to continue to castigate such a dead man or anything associated with him, as that will inflict further pain to the people of Goliati.
Once again, while one condemns violence in whatever form it takes, it is also naive to expect members of the ruling party, who should be knowledgeable, being careless and provocative in their utterances AND EXPECTING the villagers, most of whom not privileged to be in class, to exercise RESTRAINT.
One can therefore submit that while there will be press releases and counter press releases; a new programme may be born on MBC; some analysts will condemn DPP; the fact remains that those condemnations may be directed to a wrong party, and the danger is that the PERPETRATOR of this anarchy will perch somewhere celebrating that someone else is paying for their sins, and therefore motivated to do it again.
By the way, the MCP and the UDF leaders have been to this part of the country recently conducting their whistle stops/rallies without such unfortunate incidents taking place.
And before I signoff, there is this worrying trend in which Chiefs are now outclassing each other in praising the President and demonizing the opposition, calling them rebels, thugs, jealousy people, among other names. One hopes a wrong party will not be blamed, if such Chiefs get a fair share of the bitter fruits of such senseless speeches!!!
ONCE AGAIN THESE ARE BITTER FRUITS OF NON-ISSUE BASED CAMPAIGN, HOWEVER VIOLENCE IS NOT THE SOLUTION, WE ALL NEED TO PLAY OUR PART TO AVOID SITUATIONS THAT CAN EASILY GET OUT OF HAND.