Malawians pay for blind loyalty

History has a tendency of repeating itself. It was an imaginable that ten years into democracy, Malawians would face another dictatorship. It is here now because some people especially leaders have already forgotten the suffering that Malawians went through during the three decades of dictatorship.

Apart from other reasons, Dr Banda’s dictatorship was blamed on being a muchona i.e. a man who had over stay outside the country. The 40 years he was away, he was unable to connect with people of Malawi. He could not relate with them or feel free to interact and discuss national issues. Honestly speaking, nobody could claim to know Dr Banda well. Malawians followed him blindly and the results were that he became a much feared dictator.

Mutchona Bingu Mutharika punishing Malawians

During the fight for democracy in 1992, the majority of Malawians were of the opinion that never again should Malawians accept to be ruled by a muchona. They said a man who has been around would understand the people and the local situations better. Surprisingly, President Muthalika who had lived outside for a long time was elected into office in 2004 after Muluzi had strongly campaigned for him. It is not a secret that President Muthalika was not well known. Even people from his home district of Thyolo rejected him. They did not trust him much to be their MP during the 1999 elections.  During the 2004 elections people just blindly supported him with the Presidency. This was done again in 2009.  It is the blind loyalty that people have been giving President Muthalika which has caused the mess in the country. Had it been that the 2009 land slide victory meant people are close to him, they would have been advising him rather that wasting time with praise singing.

Sadly, at the moment the element of people not being connected with President Muthalika has produced results. The country is faced with a dictatorship which has rippled into economic and governance problems. The difference between Dr Banda’s and President Muthalika’s dictatorship is that Dr Banda was very patriotic.  He loved this country .Apart from high standard infrastructure development, he made sure his government was up and running all the time. Malawians can remember so well that, civil servants were always paid on time.  There were no excuses. Shortage of forex and fuel was unheard of.  Water and power disruptions were unacceptable and rarely happened.

The above is not the case under President Muthalika.  Though he is proud of his achievements, the majority of Malawians fail to recognize such achievements. How can they amidst countless problems ranging from erratic power supply to spending cold nights at fuel stations? The President is so fond of saying ‘the works of my hands speak for me’. This statement is ambiguous. One wonders if the President knows that the works of his hands  include shortage of water, fuel, forex, continuous power blackouts, lack of academic freedom, people being heavily taxed etc. etc.

As people are aware, President Muthalika has a big team of advisors in addition to a 42 member cabinet. Needless to say that  the countless problems in the country are a clear indication that the President does not relate to the people he has around him. Experience has shown that his people cannot dare come up with any suggestion for the President to consider. What they know best is to refute anything and everything against government. Being blind followers they are very fearful of the leadership. If such high powered people cannot connect with the President, then what chance is there for an ordinary Malawian?

 In the Constitutional review some people suggested that any presidential candidate must be a man or a woman who has continuously lived in Malawi for ten years or more.  In this way the people would know all the characteristics of the person they are putting in power. Blind loyalty for machonas is accepting people who are so pumped up with self importance. Malawians should watch against blind following which can be so costly. – (Written by a Nyasa Times columnist, Emily Mkamanga. Feeback contact her via email: [email protected]).

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