Friday, December 6, 2013

For a Moment, Risk Siding with Kasambara

The Joyce Banda administration might still be a baby in respect of governance. Surely, however, it has matured in one area—propaganda. Take the arrest of Ralph, ohhh no, Ralphael Kasambara. Now see how the Banda administration has managed to stage a propaganda that has led to a de-emphasis of the cashgate to priming Kasambara arrest. Consequently, this day, so it seems, the issue is less about cashgate and more about Kasambara’s role in the shooting of Paul Mphwiyo, the ex-Budget Director in the Ministry of Finance.

Apparently to the sole end of the state propaganda on Kasambara, the nation was invited to try and convict him. The nation obeyed and so the man is convicted. Stories—of Kasambara bedding young girls, of him commencing suits with false evidence, of him staging legal dramas to maneuver his way out—have been made public to the consumption of the gullible citizens. And hungry for information as the citizens are, they swallowed the information oft-times without chewing. And the citizens believe they have the right information on which to judge the character of one Ralph, the celebrity lawyer.

The Banda administration happens to give itself a pat on the back for having achieved its goal—dirtying Kasambara’s image. Now the citizens cannot call for his release as was the case during the Bingu wa Mutharika days when he again was put in the cooler. The language, from the media to the academicians and from the public officials to the citizens, is the same; trust Kasambara at your own risk.

This be as it is, it interests logic to look at all angles to a problem. Kasambara might have been bad, immoral or what have you; but still, every his case…past, present, or future needs to be considered on its own merits. Reason celebrates this line of thinking, and so is justice. To this end, it is tempting to risk trusting him on his pronouncements regarding his arrest.

His story, or sorry! His history aside, Kasambara has every hallmark of someone sacrificed at the altar of political opportunism. His persecution in the name of prosecution will undoubtedly have boomeranging effect on the People’s Party (PP) and its leadership. His calmness and poise should tell a serious analyst of someone with a card hidden up in ones sleeves. 

Here is the caveat in all this: if indeed there is hard evidence proving Kasambara’s complicity to the attempted murder of Mphwiyo, then why the whole state machinery is busy dangling carrots and sticks to would-be witness to implicate him?. 

If the writing in the media is anything to go by, one wonders why the police are on the prowl negotiating dark deals with witnesses, all with the sole aim of offing Kasambara professionally and more so politically. Doesn’t this, in itself, evidence enough of the persecutory nature of his prosecution? Or perhaps, and most likely so, the state is afraid of his innocence? Is it not said elsewhere that the innocence of a humble man has a strange way of revealing the innocence.

Again, if indeed Kasambara is a crook, then he would better know that crookedness hardly pays if practiced against those up in the socio-economic and political ladder, let alone the president. Him of all people should have known that the president is a well-advised individual in any society. And would not, ordinarily, dare say the president is his witness. But he just did exactly that. Certainly, Kasambara is on a serious mission!

Seriously, the lawyer in him should have told him to tread carefully on his statement that the president is his witness. And, perhaps surprisingly, he has clung to his statement that the president should be in the dock as his witness.  Yet, the lawyer in him, still whispers that calling the president in the witness box is the safest way to tread. And Kasambara does not regret that call to this day!

Reading the writings in the media, and observing the Mphwiyo-cashgate saga as earnestly as the author does, there seems to be no better way to conclude the Kasambara arrest other than that the man is a victim of give-a-dog-a-bad-name-and-kill-him politicking. 

Given the above, one would hasten to risk siding with Kasambara. Yes, whatever the stories of his past, the man is most surely more under persecution and less under prosecution. And somehow he survives, and he will.

Cashgate: The mother ‘cashgator’ is the presidency

The Arab Awakening has surely wakened up nations, Malawi inclusive. Expectedly therefore, citizens in nations across the globe have generally positively reacted to issues of governance, human rights, freedom, and development. Locally, it is little wonder that it is the Arab Awakening mentality that is the guide in understanding the cashgate affair. 

Among others, an Arab Awakening mentality demands that citizens are treated as capable of thought-process. Surprisingly, the current presidency happens to have missed this important fact. True to this statement, the presidency is all busy throwing half-baked tantrums to the nation here and there in the name of anti-cashgate measures. The Banda-Kachali presidency thinks Malawians are the same old lot; the gullible, naïve, and pessimistic lot.

It is repugnant to think that the state investigatory machinery is, over two months down the line, still in its preliminary stages of the Capital Hill looting investigations. This is laughable! One would hate to think that the state, no matter how under-resourced it can claim to be, cannot, in all fairness, conclude investigations for at least one of the alleged people within the period elapsed. 

For argument’s sake, let’s concede that the state is indeed underresourced. Still, were those on the highest echelons of power that clean, one would expect an immediate re-direction or re-routing of human and financial resources to prioritize the cash-gate incident. This does not happen. And worse still, everyday the nation hears the presidency making a barrage of self-contradictory pronouncements purporting to address the saga. My foot! 

And even if one entertains the argument that the prosecution itself lacks political will to do a good job on the “cashgaters”, borrowing Edge Kanyongolo’s term, one would rightly expect the presidency to act fast and fine. In fact, one would anticipate the presidency to instill the spirit of will and duty to the investigators knowing very well that, politically (or personally?) speaking, the cashgate affair is a matter of sink or swim for it. Expectedly, a person with clean conscience would choose the latter. But, sadly, this presidency, as unclean as it most likely is, chooses none and only hopes for the latter.

Putting all the foregoing into thought, one is left with one conclusion; the mother ‘cashgater’ is not yet netted. In other words, there is ‘politics of politics’ at play in the whole cashgate saga with the presidency at the center.

Comparatively, this line of thinking makes the most sense. This is the case because if indeed cashgate revolves around presidency, then the present circumstances surrounding the investigations—the slow pace of investigations, the lack of will on the part of the investigators, the dillydallying in the prosecution process, and the low levels of enthusiasm from the presidency—become all too expected and thus predictable. True to that, this is exactly what is on the ground.

In a nutshell, the presidency is the principal cashgater! This be the case as it is, the ongoing investigations on the cashgate will, therefore, be rightly said to be a sham. Like seriously, the whole Lutepo-Manondo-Kasambara thing is nothing but a political cover-up of the Capital Hill looting intended to face-save both the People’s Party (PP) and its politburo. And one wonders, as many of the wiser readership do, “how would the siphoning of billions of Malawi Kwachas come to pass without the blessing of the presidency?” Impossible!

The truth of the matter, in as far as the trio—Kasambara, Lutepo, and Manondo—is concerned is that there is no triable case as Kasambara must have hinted the other day. You might wonder, why should there be no triable case given the preponderance of evidence? Kasambara, again, has an answer here, “President Joyce Banda is the witness”. 

That’s it, no case! The reason being dragging the president to stand in the dock will be the same as asking the president to come clean, really clean, on the cashgate which, in Kasambara’s raw lawyering, will result in giving pointers to the presidency’s role in the cashgate. And president Banda is not too dull as to fail to sense this, and that’s why she is all geared up gleaning support from all and sundry—the police, the media, academicians—to create evidence to ensure that Kasambara does not get the day and thus goes to hell alone when the hammer of justice gets hammered.

All in all, it is obvious, from simple observation, that the presidency is at the centre of the cashgate so much so that there can not be justice done, or seen to be done, on anyone connected with the cashgate incident if the presidency does not receive its fair share of justice for its role in the cashgate affair. 

And this is where the independence of the judiciary  gets tested with stakes all up too high!