Malawi’s Government of National Unity and recycled politicians

In the first place, let me deliver my congratulatory remarks to the new cabinet, though comprised of many familiar faces, it still is a new cabinet of a new government under new leadership. Congratulations! The nation is both anxious and excited with your appointments, and expectations are oddly high; many expect you to quickly revitalize the economy and politics, how you will accomplish that, they do not really care; they just want to see results.

Do not promise what you won’t achieve, considering the intensity of challenges against the time you have; if it is miracles you need, we are ready to bend on our knees with you and supplicate divine intervention where your strength fails.

Having satisfied the expected traditional obligation of congratulating the fortunate among us, let me share just a couple of personal perspectives on the current Government of National Unity (GNU) and the inclusive cabinet that have prompted this article.

The GNU’s new inclusive cabinet has equally raised both anxiety and applauds amongst citizens of Malawi who invested their patience and hope in the cabinet appointments. From what I have managed to gather from critiques, I feel both the applauses and anxieties are consequent to the perceivable impartial and inclusive nature of the cabinet; how interesting.

VEEP Khumbo Kachali with senior cabinet members Cassim Chilumpha, Henry Phoya Phoya and Uladi Mussa: Photo by Living Kalimanjiora, Nyasa Times

While others regard the new inclusive cabinet as a symbol of generosity of political power, political goodwill and unity, others feel it is only a hopeless bunch of recycled politicians with nothing new to offer.

While I appreciate the irrefutable rationale behind both extremes of the emotions, my argument intends to provoke individuals to reflect on their judgment and make certain that their emotions are rightly placed.

The sudden death of President Prof Wa Mutharika shoved the Peoples Party into government when the party was politically premature and not ready to govern the nation. The party had earlier before Pres Wa Mtharika’s abrupt departure, acknowledged its own deficiencies and incapacity to survive the political heat. To counter its impending doom in 2014, the party married itself into a coalition, whichsuccessfully lured 15 political parties to walk together on the winding, bumpy road to 2014. Other major political parties like MCP and UDF, had expressed public adamancy to plunge themselves into the coalition for reasons though worthy sharing, are irrelevant to this article.

I am training myself to be a man with a few words and allow people to grasp whatever they wish to; my question is, does it look like as a nation, we had some otherwise option on the government system to adopt? Was a Government of National Unity with a cabinet of recycled politicians inevitable at this point in history?

While I am uncomfortable with term “recycled” to refer to our renowned, respectable and experienced politicians, I still find no more polite substitute word, so let me borrow from your terminology.

I totally agree that the new cabinet has recycled politicians. But has it ever crossed our minds, that there are no active politicians in Malawi except the so called recycled politicians? Politics in Malawi pivot on the recycled politicians and prostitute politics because there are hardly any political virgins.

Politics is a career, and just like any other career individuals must choose and decide to pursue it. Many that are expressing bitterness and disapproval of recycled politician in Malawi are young people with youthful intellectual vigor and visions, yet harbor no interest to actively participate in politics and table their views on public forums to be challenged by the nation.  They debate in their college and university classrooms, in their hostels, and in pubs between sips of beer, but do not channel their views through formally established mechanism so that the nation can benefit from their views.

If youths cannot involve themselves into active politics, then the recycling of old politicians should not worry them, because the government is a manual machine; there must be always somebody to run the government.

Let me clarify that when I talk about youthful active participation in politics, I do not imply that youths must affiliate themselves to particular political parties or fight against government. If they decide to adhere to ideologies of particular political parties, fair enough, because that is their constitutional right.

But, it is not involvement through political parties that defines active politics; rather it is the activities one engages in. For example, the youths can politically be active in issues to do with human rights advocacy, activism, community development projects, render consultancy and debate on parliament Bills, or participate in social welfare activities of their communities, etc.(at least this is how I understand politics; not fighting and insults-politics is inherently developmental in nature)

Finally, Governments of National Unity are usually bound to occur when a nation is going through political turmoil; where the future of the nation is greatly threatened by progressive violence, war etc. such governments have been adopted by several states around the world.

Recently, African countries like Zimbabwe and Kenya resolved to governments of national unity and instituted offices of the Prime Minister to stabilize political power struggles that led to bloodshed. Malawi’ Government of National Unity, with an inclusive cabinet of recycled politicians upon the death of Bingu Wa Mutharika, is a change that I feel endeavors to hold the nation in one peace at a time when no single political party can run the government alone.

Recycled politicians cannot retire or decline office appointments while political virgins do not exist. The government cannot come to a standstill simply because there are only recycled politicians available. The youths must rise up and with diligence pursue careers in politics if they want to send recycled politicians to quick retirement.


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