Lack of political ideologies a loophole for recycled and nomadic politicians

The opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has just welcomed back Ken Kandodo, a prodigal son whose political journey has taken him from MCP to DPP , PP and finally back to MCP. I have noted that this move has caused a lot of excitement among MCP supporters. Of course who wouldn’t be excited? Kandodo is a direct relative of former head of state and founder of MCP Kamuzu Banda .

Ken Kandodo: Not principled but moving with the political wind

However , in the midst of the excitement by MCP members , and probably anger and fear from the other camps , it leave me as neutral Malawian wondering what sort of political landscape do we have in Malawi . It is this tendency by Malawian politicians to switch Political parties at will, commonly known as “ Chenji Golo” that leaves me questioning not only the calibre of politicians we have but also the state of our political parties.

Ever since Malawi became a multiparty state, the norm by political leaders to switch parties has been rife. The trend has become so common in that others have earned themselves titles of “recycled politicians” due to the many parties they have joined and left. Of course these politicians have their own reasons why they had to switch their parties, but one thing this has exposed is the lack of identity or ideologies in our Malawi Political Parties.

An ideology is a set of opinions or beliefs on which people, groups, or countries base their actions. In simple terms, it is these ideologies that should help parties get votes from voters who share their beliefs. I can quickly give an example of the United Kingdom and its two main political Parties, The Labour party and The Conservatives. It won’t take you a minute before you differentiate the two parties just because their beliefs are totally different.

When a politician is known as a Conservative, people know that they will be pro business, against the benefits culture and anti immigration , while a Labour politician, will likely represent fairness to the poor, open to human rights and immigration.

The point I am trying to make is that – it will be hard for a Conservative Politician to announce that he has defected to The Labour party because these political parties don’t represent the same things. Choices of which party to join are made based on which ideology you represent. This makes it difficult for one to then decide to switch to the other because the electorate will not accept that your ideology can change overnight. Politician motives can easily be exposed this way.

This is why it leaves one wondering, why it is so easy for Malawian politicians to switch parties. A Critical look will reveal that the problem starts with the political parties. Parties are formed without proper ideologies. Parties are formed just for the sake of winning the next election and get into government.

Problem is without ideology, even when you get into government – your policies are all over the place cause as a party you don’t know what you represent. It also exposes the lack of proper scrutiny by Malawians of Party policies during campaign times. In summary, we have left it to regionalism, popularity and who has a lot of money to determine who wins the elections. In so doing we have created a loophole where the politician are exploiting by jumping from one party to the other.

Let’s not kid ourselves that these politicians are switching Parties with the sole aim of effectively aiding in the development of Malawi. As we have DPP, MCP and PP as the possible next government, it is sad that one can never distinguish these parties based on their policies, which is the heart of governing.

In a situation where political parties have no policy differences people are left to make choices based on ground like ethnic or regional bias, or the popularity of the leaders. It is these shallow boundaries that makes it simple for recycled politicians to do what they know best, which is to jump from one ship to the other in the face of danger or potential return to government.

So as MCP welcomes Kandodo and the many others that are switching either to DPP , PP or other parties- let us also understand that we are accepting politics that has no identity, political parties that don’t know what values they represent and also giving room to political opportunists who will always try to capitalize of popularity of certain political parties to advance their political careers.

Until Malawi will have political parties whose values stand out, it will be difficult to separate the real defectors and opportunistic politicians.

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