Op-ed: Malawi looking at a better future – Chakwera

On 23 June 2020, we will go into the most important election Malawi has staged. It will decide whether or not we can return our country to a path of development or continue on the current road to ruin.

Chakwera (L) with one of his aides Chikumbutso Mtumodzi

Just 40 years ago, Malawi was written about as a tourist paradise. Visitors flocked to spend money. The Lake was, as it is today, an unparalleled richness. But there were other gems. From on high in Zomba, visitors looked down on a patchwork quilt of Malawi’s rich agricultural lands.

The view of the plateau was like that seen from an airplane, one tourist said, but without any of the buffeting.

Those parcels of land produced a surplus for Malawians. We were leaders in tea, and coffee, grew enough maize for our own requirements, and exported to the region. When Zambians came over the border, at Chipata, they exchanged their Kwacha for ours at a premium. Our leadership made it their business to receive constant reports on agricultural progress. They encouraged the population to grow quality food crops. This attention to detail showed in the results.

Then the buffeting came, and the world changed. And we failed to change with it.

Democracy in 1994 brought relief from the excesses of one-party rule. But successive governments promised much and brought much less.

Instead, we took the country backwards. Rather than the competitive marketplace of ideas, politics became a test of ethnic and religious allegiance. It was a cesspool of broken promises and false alliances, the preserve of the big man, the lengthy cavalcade, and endlessly vacuous policies.

And then there was the corruption. While our founding father Kamuzu Banda had faults, he was not a corrupt man. There were no Swiss bank accounts, no apartments in the south of France. Aid was used to his people’s benefit, not for his short-term gain. He invested in agricultural systems, and in industrial businesses, not personal mansions.

If Malawi will prosper, we need to invest in our people in the same way.

This means we learn to invest in our agriculture, not in foreign lands. It requires us to create space for the private sector, rather than be trumped by narrow, vested interests. And it means making our country a stand-out success story for Africa, one that people regularly cite to describe as an African exemplar, a turnaround achievement.

Justin is a gardener in South Africa. He left Malawi because there was no future for him. His goal is to be a servant, after nearly 60 years of independence. This is not the future we should aspire to for Malawians.

We don’t see our future in the export of our people. We don’t want to be renowned as a nation of gardeners and ‘houseboys’. We are all Malawians. Our lives matter.

We have been let down by politicians interested only in their own welfare.

We need to take a leaf out of Asia’s book. As they accelerated their development past African levels and those of much of the Western world to become richer than their once colonisers, they were interested in power for the sake of their people, not for the sake of control and the trappings.

The longer our leaders have stayed in power, the more they have been exposed. Corruption has become the index of measurement, not governance. Rather than the ease of doing business, they are judged on the extent of the roadblocks and constraints. Corruption became the watchword, not sustainability.

And then, when polls offered the chance of change, political subterfuge became the name of the game. Stolen elections became our national sport.

Until recently, that is. Our Constitutional Court stopped that the last time, when President Peter Mutharika and his henchmen used Tippex to erase the intentions of the voting public.

Now we have a chance to put this right.

The stakes are high, precisely because we are so poor. Per capita income is now just over $500, barely twice the level it was at independence in 1964.

That may explain why the signs of government partiality are worrying. The recent enforced leave of Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda pending his retirement could only have been part of the ruling party’s plan to fiddle, steal and deny the victors of our election on 23 June. The antidote is to expose them, so that Malawians can have a decent shot at the future, not the dismal horizon at which they currently stare. Fortunately, our civil society is alive to these manoeuvres. The high court has granted injunctions preventing the removal of the Chief Justice after appeals were lodged by the Malawi Human Rights Defenders Coalition, the Association of Magistrates, and the Malawi Law Society.

The litmus test of any tourist is the ache to leave. We need to recreate the Malawi where foreign visitors whisper that the Warm Heart is, indeed, pumping, that we are the best-kept secret in the tourist market. It is where no one wants to leave and to where everyone wants to return.

And when we look down from Zomba we see an agriculture economy operating at full tilt, offering a lifestyle attractive to Malawians and its visitors, a lifestyle leader.

This should be the Malawi of tomorrow.

  • Dr Lazarus Chikwera is the candidate on Malawi Congress Party (MCP) which is representing  the Tonze Alliance. 

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ndunda ya kugwa mwadzidzi


3 years ago

Can you update us on Chakwera’s health? Is it stroke or Covid. Mukubisa matenda – mudzatiuza maliro.

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3 years ago
Reply to  Chaha

Unless you are talking of your fitness if you have the mentioned diseases yes , other wise you wish for chakwera of his healthy status is far opposite as you can see him . You need to be ashamed of themselves back to sender may God split to you those diseases as you wish and witnessed.

3 years ago

An article written in Nsundwe, while watching grown men play dress up in dust calling themselves Nyau. Zauchitsilu basi

Lawyer Theu
3 years ago

Cries in andibela on 23rd june as usual kkkkkkk

3 years ago

You have my blessing and my vote Sir. But please keep your words

Ndata Boy
3 years ago

A Leader should be thinking like this, and any SANE citizen should vote for such a leader. If you find yourself arguing against the above article then just know that you are brainwashed and you are totally void of change. In short, for now and at this season….Chakwera is the man who can bring the change Malawi needs most.

Bryan Tonga
3 years ago

Chakwera is sent, The way he just presented this, my vote for him. We need someone to think of Malawians not Lomwes or Yaos.

3 years ago

Please MR SHADOW President we wish you well!!!!!

Mbonga Matoga
Mbonga Matoga
3 years ago

I salutes you sir Chakwera you are the greatest orator Malawi has ever known, but not just any empty orator but one that believes in his words. Indeed Malawi has tried the rest and its time to try the best, you have my vote sir and I can’t wait to vote…..you will be interested to know that if I have the most valuable item in my house right now that I am looking after with all my strength, then it is my voting ID card. There is no way anyone no matter how powerful, can take my voting ID away… Read more »

3 years ago

plz nanunso avoid politics of appeasement if you want to be the favorite of all Malawians Mr shadow president ensure that contracts are given through tender,abolish the rhetoric road traffic system of examining people on highway code which has been like a tool of harboring corruption and also reduce passport fees so that people can be travelling in and out so that inte-border trade is improved as a way of creating jobs,avoid promising unrealistic dreams but concetrate on projects that are pro-poor which will directly benefits Malawians.Avoid letting your henchmen to control your thinking dont let them think for you… Read more »

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