President Bingu WA Mutharika’s sudden death and the accused 12 coup plotters


So the seismic happenings of April 5 took everyone by surprise.

No sane person should celebrate the death of a fellow human being. But, if truth be told, Bingu was a necessary sacrifice for the 15 million-plus of us. This is a callous thought I know but that is just the way it was.

But in the aftermath of Bingu’s unexpected death, a dozen – may be more – would have beaten into smithereens the half-a-century-old peace the country that prides itself as the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’ had enjoyed.

Because of selfish ambitions of the dozen, Malawi could’ve started being mentioned in the same breath as Somalia or Sudan, not an accolade to cherish if you ask me.

Look, people were willing to sacrifice the nation to further their selfish interests. They knew Bingu had died and shed tears to confirm the fact. But when they collected themselves they started the satanic scheming.

Look at Patricia Kaliati, yes…that one…she actually joked that if Bingu was indeed dead how could she mess her face up with heavy make-up?

I have a lot of respect for Bright Msaka, the former Chief Secretary for Government, who had not only survived one, or two, but three presidents. Well, he has not exactly survived the third one but he survived long enough all the same.

How Msaka lost his marbles I am not sure. He should’ve announced that Bingu had died when the President’s own brother and personal physician were busy presiding over the post-humus breaking of his ribs!

He was the government’s own heart beat. As the politicians were busy falling over themselves about how to upstage Joyce Banda, he should’ve gone on the state airwaves to do the needful. But here he was chartering planes to needlessly transport a cadaver to South Africa.

Peter, too, him whom we tout as a world-class constitutional law expert. Surely ‘Tate’ Peter needed no one to interpret the laws for him. As a doyen in the constitutional stuff, he needed no creative legal mind to lie to him that once the vice-president was expelled from the ruling party and had since founded her own party she ceased to be ‘First Vice-President’, but had become some ‘Second Vice-President’ and therefore ineligible to take over the reigns of power.

The good professor should’ve been the first to call this bluff. Or was it a classic case of ‘do as I say, not as I do’?

The DPP apologists missed a golden opportunity to negotiate a deal with the inevitable in-coming president. Instead of holding those nocturnal meetings they should’ve gone to Joyce Banda and told her: “Ma’am, we know we treated you shabbily but your nemesis is gone. We were only doing his bidding. Dissolve your PP and come back and lead the DPP.”

Abiti knows she founded PP out of convenience. If she didn’t want to abort the baby she had conceived in troubled times she would have cut some deal to accommodate the DPP in her government. Everyone would have lived happily ever after.

But here they were, a bunch of adults fooling themselves they could fool the world. These guys were so desperate that nihilism took the better of them: ‘If Peter Mutharika can’t take it, then Joyce Banda shouldn’t, let’s call in the army’.

I don’t understand how they thought the deal with the army would be. Surely Henry Odillo would’ve happily traded his combat gear for a business suit. But, trust me, we would have needed a forklift to edge him out of State House.

He would’ve announced a transitional period after which he would call for elections to elect a civilian government. Then he would’ve founded a rag tag party, become its leader and made sure he won the sham elections.

That is how military men who test power behave. Go to West Africa to confirm this.

I don’t know how the case of the ‘Midnight 12’ will pan out in court. I am not even sure how long this case will take or if it will be concluded at all. We have several treason cases in Malawi to have confidence that we will get anything out of this one. In fact the word ‘treason’ has lost its potency in Malawi.

Maybe there was a better way of handling the situation? Maybe after the publication of the Singini Report we should have rounded up the ‘Midnight 12’ and ask them to make a public apology and move on?

I don’t know.

Raphael Tenthani is a freelance journalist from Malawi. Tenthani is a BBC correspondent and a columnist in for The Sunday Times.[He is a respected journalist in Malawi well known for his popular column ,”The Muckraking”. He is well known for providing political analysis on topical issues. He has been the subject of controversy for his candid reporting on political issues. He was very critical of the crackdown on journalism during the Bingu wa Mutharikaadministration. He is also a columnist for Associated Press, Pan African News Agency, and the Maravi Post a sister publication of AGV

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