Can I be principled and critical in my engagement with political reality in Malawi? Is there a chance for me to re-examine my role in the establishment of a state that protects the rights of both minority and majority groups? Do I really have the time to reflect on how my previous votes aided the election of deceitful politicians to take key offices of the governing machinery?
I am writing this in search of a righteous and hard-headed electorate and ponder over the possibility of overcoming politics of blind faith in Malawi.
I have asked these critical questions because I feel I have been let down by my own actions in previous presidential and parliamentary elections. Through deception and simplistic understanding of the political developments, I ended up supporting them to achieve their political objectives.
In my own naivety, I thoughtlessly ventured into politics of petty tribalism, materialism and regionalism.
I, therefore, unsuspectingly, steered into government a horde of cheats, pilfers, materialists and opportunists who masqueraded as accomplices in the struggle to emancipate the oppressed. Really, did they (UDF, MCP, AFORD etc) present to me manifestos that underpinned what looked like anauthentic political and democratic journey? Have they transformed enough to pursue radical crusades that suit the aspirations of the ingenuous electorate?
Critically analysing their actions, I have found out that I have been duped all along and, now, I am sliding back into the same position whereby unconsciously and through cultured manipulation, I am capitulating to the serpentine political schemes.
There are those of you who share the same concerns given the unravelling political events involving some learned individuals who switch parties at will and pose as candid representatives of the subjugated electorate.
To make matters worse, the unsuspecting electorate have even christened their leaders as their “Obama”. All this with the backing of the opportunistic media houses whose focus is to unscrupulously maximise profits by aligning with political parties associated with their corporate interests. A development that is suspect and lacks any moral principles and tantamount to self-defeating and is quite dangerous in as far as the struggle to save human kind is concerned.
Furthermore, the unsuspecting electorate have assumed fatalistic mind-sets that seek to approve of contemporary political practice which has led to a collection of opportunistic individuals engaged in political prostitution. A mind-set that is devoid of any ‘problem posing’ needed to deconstruct the prevailing political situation and, further arguing that, they themselves, given a chance, would do exactly the same politically. Their thought process is symptomatic of a self-defeating fatalistic prophesy that promises nothing for the future generations and suggests the demise of human struggle to achieve fairness and freedom for all.
A mind-set which has left those mandated to govern with limited options opting to appoint recycled and expended politicians.
It is obvious that those critiques of my take on the political situation might arrive at easy conclusions without critically engaging with the subject matter. Their world is controlled by their political masters who hold the key to open the exit.
Theirs is the security of their jobs that, in a robotic way, shape their political perspectives in corporate terms. Over the years, when their campaign strategy misfired, we witnessed their media houses edging near collapse as they desperately transposed their edifices to align with the expectations of the ruling machinery.
You know the true colours of the unsuspecting voters, who in true sense of functional professionals are media practitioners.
When they exit their master’s world, their political perspectives take a shift in focus and are full of contradictions. You see elements of surveillance and control by judging how they easily forget the hard times they faced whilst in the ambit of these opportunistic politicians.
Their agenda has pushed aside critical and ethical professional practice traditions in order to progress mass misinformation campaign with the primary objective of protecting their obscure corporate world.
To my surprise, the unsuspecting voter still falls into the same trap of being enticed with monetary frolics, and, even offers to be part of the misinformation machinery operated by their paymasters who masquerade as pioneers of the agenda for liberating the poor of the poorest. Worryingly, you even find learned folks being hoodwinked by media antics such that one questions their ability to engage with the objective perception of reality.
In so doing, it transpires that they fall prey to the same political machinery that has been the reason for the current partisan political climate. This is just a glimpse of the dark side of our politics in Malawi that, if engaged with critical consciousness, will provide some sense of reality on the political direction. To the critical thinkers, one conclusion is right, that their political agenda is so unauthentic, that their reflections on the political situation centre on mere verbalism as one cannot find dialectical relationship with activism they claim to shadow.
Despite all this evidence of manipulative manoeuvres, the unsuspecting voter watches and absorbs their Machiavellian antics oblivious of the fact that they are taking advantage of their illiteracy and literacy.
Seeing the well-educated and well-read rolling with their agenda of deception, you only realise that down the line there are promises of their stake in the form of contracts and employment opportunities. In such chaos of dysfunctional behaviours by the well-educated, you are left wondering as to who will represent the interests of the helpless uneducated folks.
A status-quo that makes one to cast some doubts about their education if, at all, it suffices as an absolute means to human emancipation.
What I am describing here is the absence of or decline of principled pragmatism in our democratic system. The petty politicking, which has led to voters adopting fatalistic views of the larger political outlook.
Voting for the sake of change of political leaders is not enough but that voting with the change of political heart and mind.
The electorate need to push for principles and distinctive vision that represent alternative solutions to the social and economic problems prevailing in our country. We cannot afford to embrace the political culture of the winner goes and does what it wants.
In the totality of these arguments, you find that my call is for that voter who casts his vote with his brain and critical consciousness. I mean that voter who analyses the political situation and brings to the fore understandings that transcend simplistic terms of tribalism, regionalism and petty material and financial hand-outs from political parties.
My appeal to the unsuspecting voter is to turn the game against these political opportunists and seek to offer opportunity to the untried leaders.
And the offer is only possible if we take a critical perspective of the contemporary politics and seek to question the answers based on our past experience with previous transformative political episodes.
How many of you have taken stock of the political blunders made in the past? How many of you have made efforts to enter into dialogue with the view to help the common man and woman to critically engage with the objective perception of political reality?
If you sympathise and support the position set out in this critical perspective, I ask you to be an electorate of critical conscious in the choices you will make in the next elections rather than a mere passenger of some weird and shambolic political dogmas fashioned by some solipsistic individuals.
In doing so, you will be lending a voice to what might be a radical revival of the political practice tradition that play its part in the creation of a just, corruption free, equal and democratic Malawi.
In so doing, you will be doing a great service to that ordinary man and woman, ostracized group, orphaned child, elderly person and street child – for their everyday ambition is to wake up one day looking up to a political master who cares about their predicament. Not that one who preys on the vulnerability of the weak minded for self-aggrandizement.
*Thomson Nhlane is a Malawian scholar based in the UK and is writing in his personal capacity.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :