Malawi’s post-1994 rulers’ success: Turning ‘democracy’ into a Nightmare – Part II

Africa’s Scenario

In Africa, it is a common phenomenon for almost every election to be declared free and fair in other spheres, and not, by other spheres. Unfortunately in most cases, because of sketchy facts, it is so difficult to conclusively vindicate one or the other camp.

But there have been many instances where self-declared winners of elections in Africa have hastily demanded to be sworn in office despite clear evidence that they in fact did not win the elections.

These unfortunate realities articulate an interesting case study regarding the democratic order.

Focusing on Malawi:

In Malawi, the following is worth noting:

Kamuzu Banda

Kamuzu Banda

Muluzi: Ruled Malawi from 1994 to 2004

Muluzi: Ruled Malawi from 1994 to 2004

Bingu: Had more than K61 billion

Bingu: Had more than K61 billion

Malawi President Joyce Banda

Malawi President Joyce Banda

It is undeniable that the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) liberated every Malawian from the oppressive colonial rule. It is also undeniable that the MCP under the “real Ngwazi” Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda built a vibrant economic and social landscape which elevated Malawi from ground zero to the world map.

Those who will care to remember will agree that in the early 1990s you could buy a British sterling with 16 Malawi kwacha and a meagre 2 Malawi kwacha in 1970s would buy same.

In 1994, the winds of democratic change put Bakili Muluzi and the United Democratic Front (UDF) to the helm of political power as the second democratically elected president of Malawi after beating MCP through the ballot box.

Bakili Muluzi was re-elected in 1999, amid allegations of vote rigging. What is important to mention though, is that the vibrant developmental machinery of Malawi which was implemented by MCP started to steadily disintegrate during Bakili’s tenure as head of state.

In 2004, through Bakili’s UDF, late Bingu wa Mutharika was elected president. He later formed his own Party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). It is also important to mention that during his first term; Bingu did exceptionally well as president.

It was said that during the first term of Bingu, Malawi was “the second fastest growing economy in the world after Qatar”.  Whether this is commendable or not, is debatable as some people attribute to the fact that Bingu’s DPP being a minority party in parliament,  he was hiding his true colours  to safeguard his tenacious  position.

As if to prove the above point, Bingu’s second term was a nightmare, characterised by disregard of the rule of Law, intolerance, nepotism and arrogance. Reports were awash in local media that Bingu accumulated himself a whooping MwK61 billion within his tenure.

More recent revelations, from the now ruling Peoples Party (PP) suggest that Bingu and his DPP are the architects of Cash-     Gate and they  plundered a whooping MwK191 billion. Whether that is true or not, is another debate.

Unlike Bakili, we are told that Bingu was a PhD (Economics) and by virtue of that, one would logically and reasonably assume that this man would have been a champion of the kwacha and a meagre 2 Malawi kwacha in 1970s would buy same.

In 1994, the winds of democratic change put Bakili Muluzi and the United Democratic Front (UDF) to the helm of political power as the second democratically elected president of Malawi after beating MCP through the ballot box.

Muluzi was re-elected in 1999, amid allegations of vote rigging. What is important to mention though, is that the vibrant developmental machinery of Malawi which was implemented by MCP started to steadily disintegrate during Bakili’s tenure as head of state.

In 2004, through Bakili’s UDF, late Bingu wa Mutharika was elected president. He later formed his own Party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). It is also important to mention that during his first term; Bingu did exceptionally well as president.

It was said that during the first term of Bingu, Malawi was “the second fastest growing economy in the world after Qatar”.  Whether this is commendable or not, is debatable as some people attribute to the fact that Bingu’s DPP being a minority party in parliament,  he was hiding his true colours  to safeguard his tenacious  position.

As if to prove the above point, Bingu’s second term was a nightmare, characterised by disregard of the rule of Law, intolerance, nepotism and arrogance. Reports were awash in local media that Bingu accumulated himself a whooping MwK61 billion within his tenure.

More recent revelations, from the now ruling Peoples Party (PP) suggest that Bingu and his DPP are the architects of CashGate and they  plundered a whooping MwK191 billion. Whether that is true or not, is another debate.

Unlike Bakili, we are told that Bingu was a PhD (Economics) and by virtue of that, one would logically and reasonably assume that this man would have been a champion of the excuses she can, to distance herself from this scandal. For instance her illogical insistence that she has unveiled and is tirelessly fighting corruption.

This excuse alone, is ambiguously vague,  contradictory in the light of the “discovery of Cash-gate” and does not hold water at all.

What she should be reminded is that, this has been happening under her nose and as the Captain of the Ship all the responsibility of Capitol Hill cash-gate scandal squarely falls on her shoulders – PERIOD.

Conclusion

In a nut shell, it can unambiguously and reasonably be concluded that the strong and vibrant economic landscape which the MCP led government under Ngwazi Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda built since independence, has been vandalized and plundered by successive corrupt and clueless governments; resulting indescribable misery to all Malawians especially to the rural populace as basic human needs which every Malawian once took for granted, are hard to find.

Indeed, to every Malawian, except a few who were linked to the ruling elites, things have changed for the worse since 1994.

If I were asked, what legacies – with respect to Malawians social well being, did the three previous presidents leave and what about the incumbent president; I would respond – without fear of contradiction – as below:

It is my studied opinion that, what will each of the four presidents and their administrations will best be remembered for, is  as below:

  • Ngwazi Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda:

Despite the ills talked about Kamuzu’s administration – which should be analysed in perspective, Ngwazi Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda will always be remembered as the father and founder of the Malawi Nation; who through the MCP liberated every Malawian from the oppressive colonial rule. Then he went on to  elevate Malawi from ground zero onto the world map through his vibrant economic and social landscape policies.

  • Bakili Muluzi:

Bakili is undeniable the pioneer of today’s brand of “personalised politics” in Malawi which has contributed absolutely nothing, except systematically dividing the peace loving people of Malawi on the basis of regions, ethnics and religious beliefs.

Bakili will also be remembered for his quest to erase Kamuzu’s legacy an exercise he dismally failed to achieve.

  • Bingu wa Mutharika

Late Dr Mutharika left an unenviable  legacy of being a president who killed himself as a result of his administration. At the time he had cardiac arrest, like all the hospitals in Malawi, there was no proper medical facilities at Kamuzu Central Hospital, if any at all.

Chances are,  if Kamuzu Central Hospital had proper medical facilities, the man would not have been flown to South Africa, already dead, for “medical attention”. It is  probable that he would have been alive today.

  • Joyce Banda

Joyce Banda will leave a legacy of a person who has been actively involved in all the four parties which have been in government since independence in Malawi.

This poses a serious question on her judgement of political affiliation: is it based on political policies or is she a mere opportunist?

Furthermore, based on the information at hand regarding cash gate (if proved to be true), her administration will be remembered by nepotism, corruption and the deliberate plundering of treasury. The deliberate plunder of treasury alone, in other countries, would have constituted to crimes against humanity.

To wind up, and revert to the issue of democracy versus freedom; the administrations of Bakili, Mutharika and Joyce Banda have systematically driven Malawi into a political, economic and social abyss which the citizenry have suffered and endured for so long a time.

And all  this shows that democracy, which is religiously advocated by America, has not brought to the ordinary Malawian, the much anticipated freedom, as promised.

* Dr Clement Chalera is an independent political analyst and the views portrayed in this article are those of himself. He will be writing more on Nyasa Times – be sure to make a date with him.

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