A few weeks after the controversy of a Catholic priest’s arrest for being a suspect in the killings of abinos, a Catholic Bishop, Martin Mtumbuka of Karonga diocese has backed the attrocities which Malawi Congress Party committed in its 31-year rule saying they helped fight crime in the country.
Mtumbuka was speaking Sunday at his church’s function in Chitipa.
“Crimes which could have been dealt with robustly, by the colonial government, even the MCP government of the past are responded to very weakly. The colonial government and certainly Dr. [Hastings] Banda could not have tolerated the rubbish we see today,” he said.
MCP government unleashed terror and untold human rights abuses on both innocent Malawians and petty crime suspects in equal measure.
Its methods were vicious and extra-judicial. They included tying crime suspects in the upper arms from the back. This was a very painful and highly dreaded method called nyakula in vernacular.
Still tied and sometimes with buckets of water being poured on them, the suspects would then be frogmarched to MCP offices where they would be beaten and then thrown into jail where they would stay for as long as the party pleased.
In some cases, suspects were killed by MCP terror groups.
Crime suspects were never given a chance to prove their innocence through court systems as we see today. They suffered instant punishment.
These methods were condemned by international human rights bodies. Catholic Bishops in the country led the condemnation here of the MCP governnent for this treatment of citizens through their pastoral letter of 1992.
Twenty-five years on, that pastoral letter is still respected among Malawians as it is regarded as the watershed in Malawi’s politics which led to a system of politics that upholds human and civil rights.
The letter was the first direct internal criticism against a brutal government which Malawians were afraid to speak up against.