Is Tonse Alliance revolutionary enough?

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” ― Buckminster Fuller

Many eons ago, someone told me that the greatest and most powerful revolutions often start very quietly and hidden in the shadows.

At that point, young, fast and furious, I didn’t quite decipher the uncorded but encoded wisdom.

Now, I do.

You see, many a times, people hold on tightly to a core belief that is very strong and when they are presented with some evidence that works against that damn held belief, the new evidence cannot in any way be accepted.


Because, for some reason, it creates a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance.

And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalise, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fir in with the core belief.

While I am of a strong view that a man or woman must believe in something and guard so hard and jealously in what they believe in, I also firmly believe that being open to new ways of thinking and doing things by accepting and accommodating new train of thoughts to speed through the rails of your mind is the right and best way to do things.

Life is dynamic. Allowing change is not only a flexibility, it is wisdom.

Everyone is born a revolutionary. Others don’t just take their place to do what they ought to be doing.

None of us can buy the revolution, and we cannot make the revolution. We can only be the revolution for it is our spirit or is nowhere.

Folks, this, I want to believe implicitly; man (and woman) was born only two things; love and revolution.

To borrow Albert Einstein’s words of wisdom: “The Revolution introduced me to art, and in turn, art introduced me to the Revolution.”

So, therefore, in short, I consider myself to be a revolutionary artist with an artistic revolution.

The rerun of the 2019 elections which saw the DPP losing to Tonse Alliance was in some sense viewed as a forcible overthrow of the government by citizens using a social order in favour of a new system.

By all means this had serious undertones of a radical revolutionary push to completely overhaul the system and to an extent replace it with something new and better.

But did we?

It could be fallacious to think that Malawians were simply looking for simple changes to the existing structures, and that maybe they were just scouting for different office bearers.

The previous DPP government had miserably failed to address issues of nepotism, corruption and social economic disparities.

This is what made Malawians to start calling and yearning for something that would entail a complete disruption and the radical change of the status quo.

‘Cemented popularity’

So, when our president President Chakwera, coined his view on servant leadership with a connotation of a complex and multifaceted concept of decentralisation where power would no longer be concentrated in one place, “the presidency,” many were attracted and believed that they had found the credible alternative and answer to their grievances.

It is in fact the very thing that cemented his popularity and made him a darling to many.

In what has always been seen as a very unbalanced political power structure, the constitution of Malawi gives the president so much power and as the saying goes, “too much power will always corrupt even the best amongst us.”

However our president gave us a word of honour that through constitutional means once elected he would fight to remedy the inefficiencies and build a better system of governance.

Thus the Tonse alliance was ushered into power on a promise that they were the ones to champion the transference of authority and all responsibilities for public functions from just one place by empowering local governing structures and communities to develop their agendas.

In other words this was supposed to be a People Power Government, a radical and full revolutionary movement.

By doing this, we expected this government to be the first of its kind to achieve what others failed to do in the past; that is to give real power to the people.

By letting all development needs to be assessed and determined directly by those affected and not just the few elites, the President would almost guarantee that minority rights for groups would be protected

Decentralisation of power by design guarantees that all decision making is by consensus and that whatsoever is being outputted from government is not biased in any way.

We also heard the president not mincing words that the power of the Vice President would be increased.

To our surprise there hasn’t been any headway made yet in that regard.

We fully understand that it is parliament that has to pass such laws, but unless am convinced otherwise.

It is hard for me to just buy the argument that this is totally out of the the president’s hands.

This is a president who is enjoying unprecedented majority and has every opportunity and advantage to push for any agenda legislatively.

If he wishes he can ably mobilize his caucus with no obstacles, and given how weak our opposition is, he can leverage them with ease.

I know some may argue that there’s a seemingly great working chemistry between our president and his vice and yes we have to applaud them for such gesture and maintaining such conduct.

‘What if?’

However, it is also important to note that this is only made possible because of the special understanding these two have for each other.

It only becomes tricky when other stakeholders and interests groups are involved.

At some point the secret arrangement and agreement will backfire.

What we are not sure of is what would happen if it were another pair in their place.

We need something set in stone, something prescribed by the constitution so that any subsequent leadership that would follow after the two gentlemen are gone will not have to go through the same challenges we saw with the past governments when it comes to the working relationship between the president and his vice.

Ameliorating tensions and conflicts that usually rise between the president and his vice would require a serious consensus-oriented governance system that is built on strong foundations and strong institutions.

Ostensibly, the power-sharing solution that we have between Dr Laz and Dr Chilima might only be as good as a temporary solution.

In this respect, our President and the Vice President should not be fooled and lose sight of the “what if” scenario.

Up to now nobody knows exactly what was in the agreement that the two made between themselves, and it’s not a hidden truth that there is a lot of speculations and suspicion from either camps that they both represent.

What if this is fuelled into an intractable conflict more especially as we lean towards 2025?

Let’s be honest here, we know that dynamics will eventually change come campaign season and it’s totally difficult to envisage a post-Tonse war political settlement in the absence of a tangible political power sharing memorandum.

The strategy to keep the agreement tightly closed and only for themselves has already caused tensions between alliance partners and that will continue to be a huge problem.

The unique pressure that the fifty plus one has exerted on either side of the divide will continue to force an unprecedented hybrid coalition of parties on many levels.

And yet this is the only pair that many think has a real chance to produce real change.

It will be a real big missed opportunity and a travesty of justice if this marriage will only settle for average. They must produce the change that Malawians fought for.

And while Chilima on the other hand might appear to be an improbable choice for president due to his absence of representation and having very few seats in parliament, he is still the one holding the balance of power in many ways.

It’s therefore imperative that between them, they should reach a rotational agreement.

We have seen in Israeli centrist leader, Yair Lapid, working with President Reuven Rivlin in forming a new coalition government, that is being led by right-wing figure Naftali Bennett as Prime Minister for two years, followed by Lapid in the second rotation.

That’s the ultimate definition of servant leadership and revolutionary attitude, and maybe this is what can be emulated by our leaders.

The president and his vice should stop paying too much attention to their loudest praise teams and their respective media teams.

They should focus on what’s at stake and think of their legacy.

Their excellent chemistry will mean nothing if they don’t succeed in putting structures and setting a precedent for others to follow. They have to score high both on politics and governance.

Tonse alliance will only succeed if the mutual trust between the two leaders remains rock solid and if they make their agreement open and clear to their followers.

We can’t dismiss the fact that political party followers and loyalists have power to influence their leaders actions.

I just hope and believe that our president will be legacy driven and that as a man of God first, he will be guided by the same precepts of the Word in Proverbs 13:22 “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children”

‘Quality output’

This alone should stand as reminder to our president that when all is done and said, what will measure up his legacy will be what he will leave behind.

Will the works of his hands bear witness for him?

The structures and the networks, the systems and the laws and above all else, the type of culture and mindset that he will instil in the nation will be what will count most –

These are what will determine whether or not this Government is revolutionary.

As you know they say that the depth of every well can only be revealed when the water is dried up.

Yes as of now there are so many success stories that can be attributed to this government in terms of reforms and development.

We know that these reforms have been centre for Tonse alliance’s agenda, however it’s the radical piece of that bargaining chip of the Chakwera campaign promise that is still missing and we are yet to see.

Will he succeed in setting up a culture where subsequent governments would respect the need for bringing power close to people and allowing the citizens to have a central place in decision making concerning their needs.

Yes, the reforms that we have seen being championed by the Vice President Chilima are good for improvement of the conditions and the quality output of our systems.

But if we are serious, this should only be a starting point.

As one of my mentors Dr Daniel Dube would always say and I quote; “the formula for getting into power is not the same as for bringing change.”

There is always a river between and our leaders will need more than just courage and character, they need more grace to cross and take on heights.

They will need grace to have the courage to stand up against all fears and slay all giants of opposition.

Like the great Nelson Mandela, our president will have to attempt to do something radical and unprecedented even if it means making enemies in some places and losing popularity.

What needs to be changed in its entirety is our political power structure and this can not be fixed by reforms alone.

The issue with reforms is that no matter how perfect they might appear to be, they fall short of addressing what many Malawians were hoping and asking for.

Let’s remind ourselves that when the scores of our young people took to the streets with Comrade Timothy Mtambo, and marched with SKC from the slams and the surrounding ghettos, they were only asking for one thing, “a revolution!”

Conversely, those big revolutionary demonstrations were in the strongest terms a demand for radical change.

And, the ball is in your court Mr President and the decision is yours to make. It is your game to lose.

I personally believe you are the chosen one, and, I know you have what it takes to change the future of our nation and the generations to come.

However, Your Excellency Sir, having it all is not enough but doing it all, the right way is only best way, and you, now, have the ultimate and absolute power to change things, forever.

But for now, we can only hear every tick tock of the big clock, and as the legendary reggae icon, Bob Nesta Marley once said: “Only time will tell.”

Time will surely tell if the Tonse Alliance administration under Dr Chakwera and Dr Chilima was revolutionary enough and as they say, ‘Nthawi nkachitsilu.’

As a parting short, esteemed readers, I leave you with some words of wisdom and encouragement from President Chakwera who aptly said: “We must wake up because this is a time to arise from slumber and make our dream come true.”

Let us be the revolution we want.


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