The Chasowa Commission of Enquiry recently delivered its report. Based on the terms of reference assigned, the Commission has done a good job. But there still remain too many loose ends, which creates a problem. The problem is that the responsibility to unearth the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, has once again fallen back on the Malawi Police Service (MPS).
This “service” played a very big role in “serving” death to Robert Chasowa and thereafter conveniently writing it off as suicide, knowing very well that the young man’s blood was on its bloody hands. Before we go further, let us step back, to unequivocally absolve the commission of enquiry of failure. The commission’s terms of reference were:
1. To inquire and report to the President of the Republic of Malawi, all aspects surrounding the death of the late Robert Chasowa former Fourth Year Student of the Polytechnic, University of Malawi, who was found dead at the Polytechnic campus in Blantyre, on or about 24th September, 2011. The inquiry to include but be not limited to:-
a. establishing the identity of Robert Chasowa, his interaction with politicians, his political activism, his interaction with the Malawi Police Service, and other associates;
b. establishing the date of death and the exact place where death occurred;
c. establishing the circumstances of the death of the deceased person;
d. establishing the cause and nature of the death;
e. assessing the conduct, efficiency and proficiency of the Malawi Police Service in handling and concluding the investigations surrounding the death;
f. reviewing the results of the post-mortem examinations or autopsy of the deceased’s remains;
g. establishing the identities of possible suspects, if any, complicit in the circumstances surrounding the death of Robert Chasowa, and cover-up, if any, of the death;
h. producing a written report on the findings with recommendations; and
i. submitting the written report to the President of the Republic of Malawi.
2. The Commission of Inquiry was mandated to make such inquiry, and make such findings and recommendations incidental to and connected with the death of the late Robert Chasowa, before, during and after his death. The Commissioners were instructed to conduct the inquiry in a timely manner and to report their findings within two (2) months after the commencement of the inquiry.
As said before, based on these TORs, no-one can fault the commission and the commissioners. The commission has delivered. But that does not mean that we are anywhere near justice nor that the truth has surfaced. On the contrary, several questions haunt Malawians of goodwill. Malawians who want to live in a land where the rule of law prevails and where they are assured that their kids will come back alive from the university, are still afraid and very concerned.
What guarantee is there that they will see achimwene (brother) or achemwali (sister) a ku (from) University at the end of the term or year? And more relevantly, who will face justice for Chasowa’s murder? The people named in the report, while they cannot be humanly excused for their inhuman gluttony-driven behaviours, were mere pawns. It is clear from the report that they were rewarded for carrying out somebody’s orders. They were promoted for witnessing extra-judicial murder of a student.
This raises the question: who gave the order? Who elevated him/herself to the role of the Almighty to determine who should die and when? And just what suggests that somebody very high up gave the order? There are several indications. First, state machinery was employed to disguise the murder when all facts pointed otherwise. Secondly, a promised commission of inquiry was never commissioned, and no investigation worth calling that was instituted.
And what’s more, Malawians saw once-respected-analysts, who should have known better, weaving elaborate (but nevertheless stupid) yarns, alleging that “regime change agents” had done the evil deed, when common sense directed otherwise. These analysts were people paid by tax-payers at the state broadcaster, daring to spit in the face of tax-payers.Who did they want to please with their silly analyses? They know.
Fine, granted that no amount of lamentation, no amount of grief, no litres of tears, and no amount of finger-pointing will raise Robert Chasowa from the dead; we will grant the Malawi Police Disservice the benefit of doubt in the hope that it will use this opportunity to clean its rank and file of killers and murderers – and hand them over to quickly face the long arm of law.
This takes us to the next question: how can we Malawians ensure that this does not happen again, having over the course of our history witnessed too much martyrdom? There are several things. Some, we need to learn and others, to unlearn. For a start, we should revisit our laws to reign in presidential powers so that other independent governance organs can check excesses, abuse of power and injustices dispensed by the state and its agents.
Secondly, as a people, we should unlearn granting any political party the majority in parliament again, no matter how glittering it looks. Otherwise, if we survive this “herd mentality”, we will lose our brothers, sisters and kids to the very fiends that we vote into office.
Look here: the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) became what it became because it had an unassailable majority in parliament. It became a behemoth, and it went on to create a lion. The United Democratic Front (UDF), through hook and crook, and by riding on the backs of greedy politicians, almost – almost – changed the constitution (the open terms bid), which was a one way ticket back to a one party system.
We, Malawians, never learned a thing.
In 2009, we - somehow - confused the blue tinge of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) with gold. And what happened? That demonic party started laughing all the way to the bank – plundering and murdering at will. The DPP, between 2009 and 2012 stamped “paid” to the word “ingratitude” thanks to a landslide victory.
And while we are at it, the learning and unlearning that is, we should no longer tolerate this nonsense of I-am-quitting-party-so-and-so-to-work-with-government or elected-independent-I-will-work-with-the-ruling-party gibberish.
This backward thinking is dangerous for our democracy. Come to think of it, making such “change goal” utterances as criminal to preserve our young democracy and freedoms would not be a totally bad idea! May be the Speaker of parliament would then no loner be held at ransom, to be gambling with clear cut constitutional provisos.
Finally, what can we say to the soul of Robert Chasowa that is to this day still crying for justice? We at the Maravi Post say: rest in peace Robert, you will be avenged yet because fire naturally rages in the direction where the bush is still standing.
Do you need further mollification Robert?
Rest in peace!
© The Maravi Post 2012.