Brian Mungomo on rights and stolen elections in Malawi- Ndizotheka!

The 2014 tripartite elections seem to have confirmed one thing for me. We are far from the ideal political system that ensures that all are heard and even protected. The idealists will argue that democracy ensures the protection of minority rights against abuse of the majority. I would like to suggest that nothing could be furthest from the truth. I contend that our political fights are becoming more and more intense and severe because minorities keep losing more and more even more and their protection ever more elusive.

In South Africa, a political party is content in making it to parliament. Taking a cue from Julius Malema, he has promised his former “father” JZ, that he, (Malema) will be his (JZ) worst nightmare for the next five years. Why would this young man be so sure of himself with only a handful of seats in the national assembly in comparison to the seats amassed by the ANC. The answer lies in the political system. Julius Malema knows that his voice will have its reckoning in spite of its size. He will not, as it were “ finish off like curtains” as one of our former presidents described what would happen to the opposition in Malawi while he was at the helm.

Brian Mungomo Snr
Brian Mungomo Snr

The winner take all presidential system is failing. It is failing because the winner often is the one who has the “right”. He can and has used force to limit the even the little “right to be heard” of the vanquished. In a way, his right lies in force. Because his right lies in force, the word “right” is an abstract thought and proved by nothing. The word means no more than: “Give me what I want in order that thereby I may have a proof that I am stronger than you”.

Because the losers are consigned to poverty for five years in our case, the fight for political office becomes ever fiercer. While we talk of political rights and freedoms as if they are commodities doled out freely by some benevolent power from somewhere, we often seem to forget that as human beings, we like to dominate others. Just go to any crèche and see life play itself out in miniature. There, you will see little children tossing each other to the ground in reckless abandon. The truest form of human expression shaping itself for the future.

My friend Charles Simango in his “Thinking Aloud” piece posted on Nyasa Times lamented the lack of tolerance and inclusivity of the DPP which was replaced by Mrs. Joyce Banda two years. He lamented the lack of protection of minority rights and outright favoritism. I salute him for his honesty in declaring his interests openly. But I would also say to him, “wake up Charles, this is politics”.

But that is Charles; you have never been one for politics steeped in lies and deception. You are a realist who also flirts with liberalism. Unfortunately though, the power of this world does not lie there. It lies is brute force and unfairness. As a theological student, I would even go further and say that it was such liberalism that earned Jesus the stake! Nothing wrong it though, but the world we live in is not structured that way.

It has been said that political freedom is an idea but not a fact. This idea one must know how to apply whenever it appears necessary with this bait of an idea to attract the masses of the people to one’s party for the purpose of crushing another who is in authority. This task is rendered easier if the opponent has himself been infected with the idea of freedom, the so called democratic liberalism, and, for the sake of an idea, is willing to yield some of his power.

I salute Mrs. Joyce Banda for her readiness to vacate state house when a “true winner” is declared, and not a person who cheated his way to power. I agree with her in a way. Any person who shall enter state house deceitfully will signal calamity to for all of us! It is precisely here that the triumph of “winner takes all” theory appears; the slackened reins of government are immediately, by the law of life, caught up and gathered together by a new hand, because the blind might of the nation cannot for one single day exist without guidance, and the new authority merely fits into the place of the old already weakened by liberalism. Frightening, but true! Unless we willfully decide as a people that this system, the “winner takes all” political system is slowly but surely pushing our collective finger towards the self-destruct button, we cannot blame it on anyone else but ourselves when our collective aspirations, if indeed there is anything like that, goes up in in smoke one day.

Thabo Mbeki and others have even gone further to say that in our day the power which has replaced that of the rulers who were led by conviction is the power of money. Time was when conviction ruled indeed. The idea of freedom is impossible of realization because no one knows how to use it with moderation. It is enough to hand over a people to self-government for a certain length of time for that people to be turned into a disorganized mob. From that moment on we get internecine strife which soon develops into battles between classes, in the midst of which states burn down and their importance is reduced to that of a heap of ashes.

This indeed begs the question. Is it possible for any sound logical mind to hope with any success to guide crowds by the aid of reasonable counsels and arguments, when any objection or contradiction, senseless though it may be, can be made and when such objection may find more favor with the people, whose powers of reasoning are superficial? Men in masses and the men of the masses, being guided solely by petty passions, paltry beliefs, traditions and sentimental theorems, fall a prey to party dissension, which hinders any kind of agreement even on the basis of a perfectly reasonable argument. Every resolution of a crowd depends upon a chance or packed majority, which, in its ignorance of political secrets, puts forth some ridiculous resolution that lays in the administration a seed of anarchy. It is one thing to blame it on Bright Malopa, but for crying out loud, Malopa is only an individual! Unless the whole nation is surrendering its intellectual might to one singular head belonging to Bright Malopa! Come on, be serious! Where was the so called intelligence system?

Even those who we don’t like have rights. Where does right begin? Where does it end? In any country in which there is a bad organization of authority, an impersonality of laws and of the rulers who have lost their personality amid the flood of rights ever multiplying out of liberalism, people find a new right – to attack by the right of the strong, and to scatter to the winds all existing forces of order and regulation, to reconstruct all institutions and to become the sovereign lord of those who have left to us the rights of their power by laying them down voluntarily in their liberalism. Justice Maxon Mbendera is only a referee to determine a winner in a contest based on bad rules to give a predetermined bad outcome.

Would it not be possible, really, to find a system that is truly inclusive to an extent that it reduces the need for one to enter state house by any means necessary? I muse with the thought: Yes we can! Or to borrow from someone, Ndizotheka!

*The writer lives in South Africa having fled with his family in 2000 when the UDF made a play on his freedoms and right to life.

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