There are many lessons that other African countries especially Malawi should learn from the way Kenyan politicians transformed their politics from primitive to politics of objectivity and vision for the well-being of the masses. Just a couple of weeks since the youthful Kenyatta picked up the mantle of power (presidency), Kenyan leadership has set an example to the whole world in general and Africa in particular that their politics has reached a maturity stage.
Unlike what is commonplace in many African countries (i.e. Malawi) where political leaders don’t seat side by side, Kenya has put a halt to such practices. The victor of the just passed elections, president Uhuru Kenyatta met his counterpart (political rival) Laila Odinga at the lattes state house where both were accompanied by their vice presidents who were the running mates in the election.
The four leaders discussed issues of peace and how together can contribute to develop the country. This is what Malawi politicians should learn that being rivals in elections should not jeopardize the development of the country. Here, the ruling party should understand that being in opposition is not a crime but rather it signifies that there is democracy in the country.
This lesson is vital especially this time when Malawi is about to conduct elections in the next few month coming. Politics of castigation and detestation has no room in the 21st Century if we are to develop, and this malpractice is posing great danger to our infant democracy. What is more striking in Malawi context is that this enmity between the ruling party and opposition is that it begins from campaigning period to the next election instead of reconciliation for the prosperous and development of the nation.
The second lesson that Malawi should learn from Kenya is the issue of portfolios. I was shocked when I came across the fact that it is indicated in Kenya’s constitution that despite the presidential prerogatives, the state presidents is constitutionally allowed to appoint the Cabinet within the limitation well spelled in the constitution. The Cabinet is limited to not less than fourteen and not more than twenty two ministers who are now known as Cabinet Secretaries according to the new constitution.
It is marvelous and worthy noting here that Cabinet Secretaries are not supposed to be members of Parliament and once an MP is appointed to be a Cabinet Secretary, he/she must resign the seat. As a matter of fact, the President’s nominees to Cabinet secretary positions must be vetted by the National Assembly. I was trying to finger-out why their constitution have this clause, fortunately I concluded that certainly their government wants to minimize expenditures and most importantly to give Ministerial post to not just mere politicians but to technocrats with experience in such positions. Sometimes I wonder to see an economist heading Ministry of defense, an Agriculturalist commanding Ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation and to make it worse, even drop-out make it simply because he/she is an MP.
Thus, I suggest that our constitution should be reviewed to accommodate such issues i.e. to allow the legislature to have a say on presidential appointment of the Cabinet the way it does on other appointments. This will promote sense of professionalism and at the sometime boost our grappling economy.
To this end, I can I argue with confidence that Malawi’s economy is not better than the Kenyan’s. In a plain word, we can say here that as of now Kenya’s economy is far much better than ours, but still Malawi has a bigger cabinet than Kenya and other SADC nations.
In another example, Singapore for instance, one of the richest countries in Asia and well known internationally because of its sound economy has only fourteen Cabinet Ministers (14), despite having enough resources that allow them to have even more than thirty Ministers. In contract, poor Malawi and its Cabinet of thirty six (36) members outnumber Singaporean Cabinet and other developed countries twice as much.
In wrapping-up, Malawians will very soon go into polls. I would therefore humbly ask all politicians to take a lesson from Kenya. It is high time for our politicians to start walking their words and not rhetoric. We need one prosperous Malawi worthy living for all Malawians. We can achieve this feat only and only if we allow change to take place in our politics from primitive to modern politics that does not at any cost indulge into unnecessary disparagement, but rather wholly rest on positive policies. We can build one strong Malawi if we hold hands together just like what Kenyatta and Odinga has displayed. Yes together we can make a difference.