Why is Malawi politics dominated by dynasties?

The former ruling party Peoples Party (PP) has hit the headlines recently, amidst the rumours of their flirting with the ruling DPP since the parliamentary vote on electoral reform bill, to the recent firing from the party of its interim leader Uladi Mussa. The party has also elected new position holders. Zomba Malosa MP, Roy Kachale , son of the partys leader-in-absentia Joyce Banda has been elected  as the partys vice president.  Of course Uladi Mussa had his parting shot, claiming that Joyce Banda is basically grooming his son to take over the partys leadership.

Party leadership has been changing hands with the family: Late Bingu (L), Banda (C) and Mutharika and then there is Muluzi in UDF, Chihana in Aford only MCP it is not on family politics

The question of children of politicians taking over the positions their parents held in their respective parties has always divided opinions. Is this right or wrong ? Is there lack of understanding that politics is not a monarchy where succession is based on family relations?. Politics is a game that doesn’t have definite rules and history is proving that Malawi is quickly adopting the trend of family succession in politics.

As highlighted , Malawi is quickly proving to be a good case study of political dynasty. President Peter Mutharika succeeded his late brother, Bingu wa Mutharika . The  leader of United Democratic Front  (UDF) AtupeleMuluzi  is heading the party  founded by his father, former president Bakili Muluzi .  EnockChihana is leading Aford a party founded by his father, the late ChakufwaChihana.

Only MalawI Congress Party (MCP) leadership succession has not been on dynasity from Kamuzu Banda of Kasungu to Gwanda Chakuamba of Nsanje then John Tembo of Dedza and now Lazarus Chakwera of Lilongwe.

Some may argue that Uladi Mussa is just bitter, and Joyce Banda grooming his son is no crime at all.   Let’snot be hard on ourselves as what is happening on Malawi political scene in this area is not new. America provides us great examples that political dynasty can happen in politics. The Bush family produced two American Presidents in George Bush Snr and Junior. Another Bush, Jeb, a senator could have been the third president from the family had it not been that he lost in the primaries to Donald Trump.  In Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta is in a position once held by his father Mze eJomo Kenyatta.

Maybe the first understanding should be that  politics is a career just like any other careers. I have seen so many people who have followed their parents  footsteps  into their  careers. I have seen teachers whose parents were teachers, carpenters whose parents were carpenters. This is why I find the argument that political leadership is not a monarchy or chieftaincy where just one family dominates flawed.

A number of factors contribute to the rise in political leadership and popularity is one major factor. It is easy to know that some of these have benefitted from the popularity of their parents.  We also have to understand that as Malawians, whether by being a child of a former politicians, but they too have the right to participate in politics and stand for whichever position they want to.

The human race as well has the tendency of being sceptical to change or trying a new thing.  This works to the advantage of some of these guys as those who vote for them into power basically feels like it’s just a continuation of their parent’s/relative leadership.

There is never short of dark forces in politics, and that’s the worrying thing as questions are raised as to whether real democracy is at play on the elections of these leaders. Many feel members are intimidated to vote for the child/relative of the former leader – and this is made worse when the parents still have a strong hand on the political party.

The other concern with family politics is that It easily protects the crimes done by previous relatives.Others have argued the reluctance of Peter Mutharika to pursue the investigations into the wealth accumulated by his brother Bingu as one example why family succession is not positive for a country.

We can argue on whether family succession is good or not but one thing we cannot rule out is that at certain point, people will have a chance to have their say. It is during the general elections that a choice is made to choose who our national leaders are. If it’s a family member of a certain former politician winning, then truly that decision has been made by a majority of voters.  As long as the leaders are elected on merit and they in their own right displays quality leadership traits, whether they are relatives of former politicians really doesn’t matter much.

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Pathological liar
Pathological liar
4 years ago

Political dynasties (Monarchies) in Africa and Malawi in particular are largely meant to keep ruling power to the said families & tribes they belong to. This defeats the whole concept & definition of democracy. Politicians r working on ths loophole to extrapolate their relations to presidency.

In Africa where abuse of power is all over, we need to strengthen & defend our democracy. We need specific laws that will ensure these dynasties come to an end. A case in point is Blausse family which has ruled a country for 50 years.

Wa Mwale
Wa Mwale
4 years ago

Well said and explained, however the system is not us good in Africa and Malawi in particular, if the previous leadership serves people well, without deepening corruption as is the case in Malawi, where Muluzi left issues of about 1.7, and Bingu left the issue of about 577b, now his brother or his son comes in power, he will not dare to pit his brother or father in court to account for the huge misappropriation of state funds. So we don’t need this kind of politics here. From Muluzi to Peter, Billions have gone without tracing because of the same… Read more »

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