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.