The dawn of democracy was charged with excitement and high expectations in Malawi since it was time for Malawians to choose a leader of their choice. Malawians were optimistic of being fully represented in the national assembly. Indeed people thought it was the end of socio-political grievances which they had accumulated under the one party system.
The two leaders we have had since 1994 have not helped matters. The reason is obvious: One was in active politics during the one party system and the other who spent a good chunk of their time outside the country reveres the country’s president who was a dictator.
In this 21st century we don’t need leaders who are power hungry but leaders who have the genuine desire to rebuild the country’s economy and political system. My belief is that to chart a brighter future for the country, the youth must be given priority. While we may all want to succeed, young people usually have the ambition and drive to make things happen.
It’s not that our politicians don’t know that the youth have the potential to impact positively our politics and our development. The parties may have youth wings but if anything, they are abused by being used to protect the interests of those in power. The youth are sent to intimidate and harass those seen as a threat to the status quo.
Ask yourself the levels of education of youth involved in what could said to be criminal actities? Mostly they are people who didn’t even finish secondary school. Now in parties where youthful leaders have tried to shake things up, the old guard has refused to play along. Take the Malawi Congress Party for example. Anyone who has tried to call upon party leader, John Ungapange Tembo, to bring about change, has been shown the door by the party. Nobody, it seems, can challenge Tembo.
But the MCP isn’t the only party with that attitude.
The announcement by Atupele Muluzi that he wants to run for president in 2014 is welcome news to young people like me although his party, the former ruling United Democratic Front (in power 1994-2004) is unhappy about it.
But Atupele, in my view, is the only hope amidst disillusionment and a sense that the country’s leadership doesn’t care for us. They betrayed us. We finish school and there are no jobs or programs to help us acquire the necessary skills to make us employable or self-employed. People end up in teaching but that’s not what they wanted to do in life in the first place. What kind of teacher can one therefore make?
Malawi’s leadership, be it the once after 1994 when the country opted for pluralism or what we have now, has failed to break free from the past. They may say they abhor the way our first president, Kamuzu Banda, treated his people but that is just talk. Their actions speak louder than their words. Look, even in Russia when Khrushchev took over the thrown, he declared Stalin’s dictatorial tendencies as bad, but in reality Khrushchev was also a dictator, and he knew how dictatorship helped Stalin to fortify his political power.
Granted, Malawi needs people who know what happened in the past and have no desire to imitate what the past was like in one way or another. We need leaders who are not held back by the past. We also need leaders who think less in terms of where one comes from and realise that we all Malawians.
Malawians must work hard to remove the poison in our politics. The behaviour of our politicians gives politics a bad name and many people lose interest and resent politics. They will say they don’t care about politics yet politics affects our lives in ways we don’t even realise.
Take a moment and reflect on what is happening. Markets, properties of human rights activists are being set on fire. There are vicious verbal attacks against the opposition on national airwaves. These and other incidents give those who fear or don’t like politics just another reason not to engage in politics.
This takes me back to my earlier point. Our politics needs fresh ideas and those ideas are, in my view, not going to come from the old guard who had their time and have no ideas and are unwilling to learn new ways that could be used to move the country forward. I am appealing to all young people to do their part in helping shape the future. The future just doesn’t belong to us; the future is us thus we shouldn’t leave it in the care of others. We can do this.
· The author is a second year education student at Mzuzu UniversityFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :