Malawi road to 2014 and beyond: Time to get it right

Recently Nyasa Times, the most influential  online newspaper in Malawi, wrote an editorial critical of government on issues surrounding devaluation of the national currency. That editorial was one of the many, and still growing number of, voices displeased with the Joyce Banda administration.

We have also heard from human rights activists like Mr. John Kapito, political experts like Professor Wiseman Chijere Chirwa, and thousands of citizens on the streets of Malawi. After several months of having Joyce Banda at the helm of this beleaguered country, the verdict is in and the message unmistakable – She has failed!

President Joyce Banda is a good person. She is very accomplished in her own life. She has a strong passion for women and children’s rights. But she has failed and it is time for the nation to face this fact.

President Banda with opposition chief John Tembo. What's in store for Malawians in 2014

The problem with this government is much more than mere incompetency, it appears nobody knows what to do, and confusion abound. They do not even keep track of their own promises. When President Banda took over government, she promised a one-year recovery plan for the country. Now we are told they have just unveiled an 18-month plan. What has happened to the initial 12-month plan? Perhaps both plans will run concurrently.

Recently PP held a convention to elect office bearers in preparation for the 2014 election. Did you notice anything strange with that convention? They made history in that it was the first ever convention any party in the world held without first producing a manifesto. This should not be a surprise to anybody. Joyce Banda’s PP was formed a long time ago. Throughout its existence they have never produced a manifesto. How then do we as Malawians allow people to be our leaders without a platform and vision for the future of this country? The joke is on us!

Of course, some of us are not surprised by the performance of this government. A few days after she took the government, I wrote in this column that Malawians should look forward to a new leader in 2014 instead of investing their hopes in Joyce Banda. It did not take any political genius to figure that out. Success in politics, just like in any other field, does not come by chance, hope or goodwill. Success is quite predictable based on available record. How a person performed in a previous responsibility is a good predictor of how successful he/she will be in the presidency.

This brings me to a very important point and I want Malawians to listen to me carefully here.

As Malawians, we are so obsessed with ‘names’ of individuals instead of looking at talent and capabilities. We never ask the question – is he/she capable? Joyce Banda’s history as VP and as President of PP should have told anybody that she would not be a successful president.

Already some people are talking about Atupele Muluzi. What record of success does Atupele Muluzi at the ministry he is now leading? Do people think he will all of a sudden turn from a mediocre minister to a high performing president?

Yet others are excited of the prospective candidacy of Dr. Peter Mutharika. I can tell you for free – Dr Mutharika will not perform any better as president. He has a record, and it does not look good. During his reign as Minister of Education, he failed to resolve a prolonged strike by university students, staff and professors. During his tenure as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Malawi saw a period of lowest diplomatic relations ever. Will he perform any better when he is in charge of all ministries?

As with President Banda, both Dr Mutharika and Mr. Muluzi are good people accomplished in their own right. But the record is not there for Malawians to expect a better performance in the presidency.

It is time to get it right. As 2014 approaches, Malawians must start thinking outside the box.

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