Peter Mutharika might have inherited the government from Joyce Banda but the ghosts of first Republican president Kamuzu Banda are in Mutharika’s neck.
Victims of paramilitary wing Malawi Young Pioneers under former President Dr Kamuzu Banda want to meet President Peter Mutharika in order to ask him to bring back the National Compensation Tribunal.
Addressing the press in the capital city Lilongwe, the victims said they believe that the president will help them to start living a normal life.
The victims said the issue is not about who persecuted them but their plight.
One of the victims told journalists that they were very rich before their homes were raided by the Young Pioneers but now they are very poor.
“We returnees and political detainees, on behalf of fellow returnees and political detainees throughout Malawi are forced by circumstances to complain, after years of waiting and hoping for the revival of the National Compensation Tribunal. The National Compensation Tribunal was established by an Act of Parliament, Act No 26 of 1993 giving a clear obligation to government to compensate and resettle returnees and all those who suffered under the one party brutal regime of the Malawi Congress Party, unfortunately the National Compensation Tribunal was dissolved on 18th May, 2005 even before fulfilling its obligations.
“It is our view that parliament should prescribe ten years for the National Compensation Tribunal to function, to hear and determine all claims in respect of any alleged criminal or civil liability of the government of Malawi in power before the commencement of the new constitution arising from abuse of power or office. After ten years no new claim would be entertained at all as the National Compensation Tribunal would have met its obligation,” he said.
According to the group’s acting chairperson Kaswaya Mkandawire, out of 18,700 registered returnees and political detainees only five families were fully compensated leaving out a huge number of them who received minimal interim payments ranging from MK10,000 to MK20,000.
Mkandawire painted a picture of the group: “We are a representation of people who languished in exile for years and others in political detention without trial for years. We are a people without land, shelter, without meaningful jobs and future. Amidst us are the aged and some have died miserable along the way while waiting for their compensation and seeking answers for their suffering. We have orphans, widows, children, women and professionals too. It is sad to note that we are facing these hardships after our properties were confiscated, forced to go into exile, detained without trial by the one party regime of the MCP,” said Mkandawire.
He said the group returned to Malawi after being released in response to the General Amnesty Act enacted by Parliament on 23rd June, 1993 and later amended on 7th November, 1993.
Mkandawire said their return was also a response to former President Bakili Muluzi’s call for the all exiled Malawians to come back home and help rebuild the nation.
“Facing atrocities and oppression for a period of 30 years after the cabinet crisis of 1964, the affected Malawians had nowhere to go and hide, security was tight both here and abroad, and those that could manage had to cross the boarders into the neighbouring countries to seek refuge,” he said.
According to Mkandawire, those who were lucky managed to cross to Zambia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique including South Africa. So true were influx of political prisoners detained without trial in Dzaleka, Mikuyu and Maula prisons. The unlucky ones were killed and some fed to crocodiles in Shire River.
“Even far in exile, the long arm of the Malawi security forces networks did reach, targeting refugees and many were assassinated and petrol bombed. For example, Dr Attati Mpakati was assassinated in cold blood in the heart of Harare, Zimbabwe after [state agents] failed to kill him by a parcel bomb in Maputo. Mkwapatira Mhango was petrol bombed with 11 members of his family including a nine months baby,” said Mkandawire.
Some of the officials who accompanied Mkandawire included Allan Kondowe, Kasim Ali, Magret Jika and Elizabeth Kondowe.