Written by NORMAN LINCOLN
Peter Mutharika’s last week apology for the 20 July 2011 deaths of civilians, at one of his mammoth gatherings in the northern city of Mzuzu, took me by surprise ofcourse, but what surprised me most were some bitter and impolite reactions by certain commentators on the media towards his reconciliatory gesture.
He regretted the shootings and lives lost, and pleaded that the incidence was an accident that should not have happened. Unfortunately, some fanatics ridiculed the apology and trashed it as untimely, not genuine and a sheer political stunt.
I do not wish to affirm whether Peter Mutharika’s apology was genuine or not, because only God can read his heart. Only God has the error-free ability to see through motives behind deeds of men. So I leave the judgment to his omnipotent self. But let me share the obvious about apologies without being judgmental.
I consider an apology as a remorseful acknowledgement of a mistake committed. An apology is an apology whether a friend, an enemy, or a politician expresses it. Apologies always have motives which are sometime as wicked as the action that necessitated them and other times apologies harbor peaceful and reconciliatory motives, which remedy breached relations.
It is imperative to always bear in mind that apologies are expressed either by the culprit responsible for the misdeed in question, or by a concerned third party related to the culprit who apologizes on behalf of the offender. Sometimes the third party shoulders the blame when apologizing, other times he still rest the blame on the offender if circumstances do not place him anywhere near the mistake.
Apologies are always directed to a victim who has the right to accept or deny them. Usually, victims accept apologies on condition that they deem them contrite and genuine. But, it is ridiculous to know, that the genuineness of an apology lies in the mastery of speech of the bearer of the apology which ultimately defeats the whole idea of a genuine apology because, if the bearer of apologies is eloquent enough, he softens the heart of the victim even when he is not genuine.
Now, quickly race back with me to the serial events surrounding the catastrophic mass demonstrations of July 20, 2011. Who are the culprit and the victim? Who should apologize and to who? When I was skipping through the commission of inquiry’s report for the July 20, 2011 shootings, I observed that the document has a very extensive report that has not been publicly challenged which implies that the report is satisfactory to the best of the knowledge of Malawians.
The report places the blame on the following:
(a) Organizers; for a poorly organized demonstrations.
(b) Demonstrators; for defying a court injunction against the demonstrations
(c) The injunction itself; considering the time it was obtained
(d) Malawi Police Service; for using excessive force on certain circumstances,
(e) Inadequate police resources and skills
(f) MBC TV; for broadcasting unbalanced information
(g) The private media; for carrying live coverage of the looting, and killing.
(h) DPP Government; for autocratic tendencies
This is how I deduce the situation using very simple logic and a little bit of common sense: The above parties must share equal portions of blame for whatever transpired during the mass demonstrations and since there is a need for apologies, they all MUST apologize.
But why are the rest of the guilty parties disclosed in the report not apologizing until now? It is because an apology is challenging; it violates the ego; it humbles the offender to the feet of the victim. They refrain from apologizing because they cannot stoop and sink lower than the victims of the demonstrations.
Therefore, Peter Mutharika is a brave and humble leader. He did the most honorable things to ever have swallowed his pride and apologize for a mistake he did not directly commit to give his party a pure blue color without stains, save his late brother’s legacy and pave the new way for the DPP.
Professor Mutharika shall go down the history lane of Malawi as a party president who alone apologized for a mistake committed by many without pointing fingers. I feel his apology ought to have been respected than trashed and ridiculed by certain vocal commentators, who even said nothing about the equally guilty parties in the report who cannot apologize.
Malawians, you can do better, the world is watching.