Thursday, 21 May 2009

The Witch in the Village- Humphreys Mvula

Gilbert Katemecha was my class captain in Class 4N (1981) at Chichiri Secondary School in Blantyre. He came from Likoma Island (Kaka) and had a head for Mathematics. Somehow, the system was unfair with him because he never went to University despite that brilliant maths head. I am not sure where he is now. I was very noisy in class and though School prefect, I would always appear on list of noise makers compiled by one Katemecha. I recall one day, down with Malaria, and dozing on my desk, the class was as usual noisy and Katemecha joined in the discussion. Our Headmaster, Mr Mulagha (RIP) walked in and in his usual flamboyant voice with Chitipa/tumbuka accent, he said; “Katemecha, Who was making noise?” Katemecha, stood up, and since he had not written a list of noise makers, he grinned and said, “Watipaso”, (and everyone burst out laughing knowing that I had slept throughout). I was nevertheless punished that day.

This incident taught me that when you have a history behind you, you are vulnerable. This is true in villages where you are suspected of being a witch. Any unexplained death, the witch becomes the first suspect.

It is alleged that Humphrey Mvula was the mastermind of 2004 rigging. No one has proved this. Over the years, many people have whispered on the role Humphreys played. But in a democratic country, innocent until proven guilty is what we believe in. I am writing this article with tongue in cheek as I know Humphreys Mvula and he is a person that during my troubled times in Malawi as CEO of MIPA, would always give me professional advice. I would read his advice between lines, and the message always seemed to be that I was being viewed by “the powers” as not being politically correct. I still value his advice.

I was however not surprised when news came up that Humphreys had been locked up on suspicion of having a parallel tallying centre.

Looking back, it is alleged that the reason why President Kibaki in Kenya had hurriedly organised a quick swearing in ceremony was because he was shocked that the opposition (Raila) had also rigged and they (Orange Party) did a better job that he (Kibaki) was trailing badly in the votes. This has never been proven.

Perhaps realising that opposition can also rig, and realising that there is a “James Bond” amongst the opposition in Malawi, I would suspect that the arrest of Humphreys Mvula was more preventative than Police having full evidence of the alleged crime. Being miles away, I can only assume. I hope I am right and that Humphreys will walk free.

In Malawi, we have witty and intelligent Malawians. Humphreys is one of them. I had the privilege of interviewing him in mid 1990s for post of Executive Director of National Sports Council. I was at that time Board member of Malawi National Sports Council and Chairman of Appointments Committee. He never got the job, though he was impressive.

The challenge in our country is utilising these intelligent Malawians for the benefit of the country. When we treat them as criminals, criminals they will be. It is not easy, but it can be done.

The “Witch” was made in God’s image and he is useful. Together we will build.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

The Yellow Farm

One Journalist early this year reflected on how God hardened the heart of Pharaoh as Moses asked him to “let his people go”. God brought many calamities to Egypt and its people such as rats, drought, insects, including killing all the first born sons. It seems we read these bible stories as fiction instead of learning from these incidences and asking God to give us the ability to listen.

As DPP and Bingu are ushered into Government, I think the biggest loser in this whole election is the UDF. Despite the fact that it is what I would call a Party of a “Landlord and Tenants”, UDF had built a formidable organisation and had style, glamour and splendour when it came to campaigns. The spicing of the events by Lucius Soldier Banda and before that the “Tanzania troops” was not something one could ignore. Without realising, even if you were not a fan of the Party, you would sing along and dance to the famous “Yellow” song. The Party brought in intellectuals who in all fairness were level-headed and many times believed that they could change face of Malawi for the better.

Unfortunately, the landlord could not allow the tenants to be part of decisions in determining the future of the farm. The landlord always decided what to plant, how many acres, what fertiliser to use, where to source all inputs, which market to sell the crop, and who gets paid and who starves. The landlord would also decide whether the tenants would work on that farm that year, or they would be sent to another farm, or indeed bring in new temporary tenants. In silence and praise the bowed and kissed the landlord’s feet.

The “Yellow farm” is now reaping what they sowed. For a Party of UDF’s magnitude and infrastructure, the envisaged number of seats that they are expected to win calls for a long hard look on the way forward. The obvious one is for the Chairman to step down and let the remnants map way forward. There is a lot to salvage and I am sure with “Yellow” in the heart of people like Brown Mpinganjira, (aka BJ), Jumbe, Mtafu and perhaps Chilumpha, the Party can be revamped. They should learn from the miserable destruction of AFORD, for which the “landlord” played a part.
Muluzi builds and destroys. He deserves a Statue in Malawi for many people will look back and ask? How did one Bakili Muluzi manage to toy around with our lives and destiny whilst we watched? Well God did harden his heart and he became Malawi’s Pharaoh

I wish UDF all the best in rebuilding the party. Democracy can only thrive in Malawi with strong competition and co-operation.