They are moments when the power of democracy can overcome any threats or intimidation. Malawi experienced that moment this Friday when protesters in the major cities and other districts marched to showcase their frustration over a number of issues that the current government need to look at .
Headlining those issues is the call for Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe and Local government Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa to resign for being the architects of the MK4bn saga. The climax of the events really was the moment when the leader of opposition and president of Malawi Congress Party, Dr Lazarus Chakwera donning his black top joined the protesters in Lilongwe to deliver their grievances at the president’s office at the Capital Hill.
This was interesting , as in so many occasions active politicians tend not to join the demos and leave it to the civil society to do the job.
Looking at the history of demonstrations in Malawi since multiparty came in, one would agree that politicians have never been at the forefront of demos. Except on few occasions like Bon Kalindo protesting over the killing of albinos politicians have not been actively involved on the ground preferring to just make commentary here and there.
Chakwera involvement on the front line injected a fresh approach to the life of demonstrations. Critics have been quick to argue that, politicians involvement in demos politicizes the whole thing and its easy to think they are doing it to score political points and take advantage of the situation for Public relations purposes. That however, is a weak argument, as the reasons for the demos should be put into consideration first.
The issues that the civil society organisations brought about are issues that have affected each and every Malawian and it would be shocking and inconsiderate if the opposition politicians would have shunned the event. Chakwera as the leader of opposition handled his role well and his involvement in the demos is something that should be applauded.
Problems that Malawians is facing are not civil society problems only. When a country is hit by persistent electricity problems and the government doesn’t seems to bring any tangible solution to it , that’s not just a problem for CSO’s. When a finance minister comes ups with a suspicious K4 Billion to fund 86 constituencies, with alleged criteria basing the rewarding to those who rejected the electoral reforms including 50%+1 electoral system for electing the President, then that’s a problem for all Malawians.
When the party in power takes over the national broadcaster MBC and gives no chance to the opposition, or let the broadcaster broadcast freely without interferences, then that’s a problem for all Malawians. Malawi cannot continue to go on like this , corruption is on the rise , issues of money laundering are starting to surface with a great possibility of another cashgate scandal . These demos needed a collective action by all Malawians who care about their country
Politicians and civil society need to work together for the good of Malawi. Malawi democracy should be mature enough to realise that demonstrations does not mean violence. This is why , its very commendable for both protesters and the police on the way they handled things and the fact that the demos ended up being peaceful.
Memories of what happened on July 20 , 2011 when protesters were killed after violence erupted should be a reminder to everybody that violence during protests yield nothing but disaster. That is why it was a shame that a day before the planned protests, the DPP staged their own protests telling people not to go to Friday protests. While, they were exercising their right too, but it was sad of their regional governor for the south Charles Mchacha to start telling people that “protesters were not allowed in Limbe and Blantyre” .
What Chakwera has done , is show Malawians that political leaders and civil society leaders can work together, not necessarily to cause problems to government of the day , but to highlight the issues that affect Malawians. It would be interesting in future to see politicians getting involved. Some MCP names were seen taking part in the demos like Harry Mkandawire, Sam Kawale and Abidal Mia. Hopefully when need be, other political parties will get involved too. But most importantly it is every Malawians hope that the issues the civil society have addressed will be looked into for the better of Malawi as a nationFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :