Part 2: Political desperation retarding democratisation in Malawi

In this edition, I would like to first of all thank the readers of my articles and Nyasa Times for providing such a platform. The readers’ comments really build my writing capacity. To me even insulting comments are also constructive for they make me think deeply as to why one had a negative comment though I am a failure in pleasing everyone.

This edition is aimed at showing that I take hid of every single comment written under my articles. Like I said in my previous edition, Democratisation is the process followed in order to achieve democracy in either an organisation or a nation. Desperation is such a state in which all hope is lost or absent. Any action that is done as a result of desperation commonly brings annihilating results. It is when you desire to own something by dubious means just because you fear losing it due to incompetency. Most politicians in Malawi are in such a state thereby frustrating efforts to achieve total democracy that Malawians fought for in 1992-1994.

Politicians who are not confident and focused tend to intimidate their competitors for fear of losing their position instead of taking it as a chance to show their strengths. We saw that during MCP, UDF and DPP when some people who spoke against the government were arrested and detained without trial, some lost their jobs and property while others lost their lives.

During MCP we talk about the loss of Matenje, Sangala and Gadama and others. During UDF we talk about the loss of Evison Matafale, some chiefs and pastors beaten up and others.

During DPP we talk about the loss of Robert Chasowa who died mysteriously after criticising the late Bingu wa Mutharika’s government. All these were aimed at silencing those people with alternative ideas.

Such cruelty was influenced by political desperation in order to keep their position undemocratically. It is good that we haven’t heard of death or imprisonment without trial with the current government though it has its short falls also. It should be noted that there is no victory without competition. An award is given to those who go through competition or race and have shown their capability by overcoming others.

Topless DPP female supporter
Topless DPP female supporter

Hate speeches and character assassination is another act of despair. We saw that during UDF against John Tembo and others by people like Patricia Kaliati and DPP with the same Kaliati, Hetherwick Ntaba and others.

Today some people are even calling the president stupid and mandasi seller. For sure, what is wrong if the president was a mandasi seller and now God has elevated her? Or, does it mean that people who have poor background are not qualified to rule Malawi? May be Callista Mutharika and Patricia Kaliati can answer these questions but my advice is that we learn how to respect our leaders.

During DPP a programme called Makiyolobasi was established to castigate opposition leaders particularly John Tembo to gain political mileage which they succeeded in 2009 election by mislaying him. This was also influenced by political desperation. In People’s Party, Hon. Uladi Mussa has been on a helm of hate speaking. He has been speaking against young Muluzi and Peter Mutharika saying that presidency is not chieftaincy or for toddlers. I wonder, does our constitution deny the son/daughter or any relative to the former president to contest? If Atupele Muluzi who has turned 35 before next year’s election is a toddler and not qualified for prudency, what is the alternative age stipulated in our constitution for one to contest on presidency?

Peter Mutharika has also been castigated due to his marital status. I wonder, has Peter never married before? If he married and lost a wife, is it a crime in Malawi for one to be single? Is marriage one of the qualifications of presidency in Malawi? This shows political desperation also. It is not wise for one to keep his/her position or gain political morale by castigating others but by sound and well-articulated policies. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, so it does not make sense for one to dwell on one’s weaknesses and ignore the positive part. Some politicians have already started searching on what to say against Rev. Chakwera. Let us dwell on sound policies not insults for that will take us nowhere.

Let Malawi politicians realise that today’s Malawi is different from the 19th Century. Most people voting on May 20, 2014 are of .com generation who needs tactual and realistic way of running government. They are more of “the end justifies the means” of which in most cases castigation is out of their picture.

Starting with the late Bingu wa Mutharika, we have witnessed massive chiefs’ elevation without merit but for political gain which has not added anything to democracy but rather killing it. Due to political desperation, our leaders think votes lie in the hands of chiefs. They think chiefs will force us to vote for them. Not in contemporary Malawi. I wish chiefs are elevated upon merit following successful chief’s vetting criteria.

Political desperation is also characterised by giving hand-outs in exchange of votes. Giving needy people help is not bad but compromising poverty for the sake of giving hand-outs for political gains is unfortunate. It is mockery to give people food and tell them “vote for me”. This is what I would call electoral blackmailing. We spend more through hand-outs. We need sound policies to scrap out poverty. Give people loans to start businesses, not gaining votes through one day hand outs. Sound policies will help keep your positions democratically.

Police and MBC have also been misused by desperate ruling parties. Malawi Broadcasting Corporation is like the ruling party’s mouthpiece, i.e. UDFBC, DPPBC and PPBC according to their tenures’ respectively. MCP is not fitting since there was a single party then, thereby locking people’s mind on single ideologies, however most messes we see today have their roots in MCP and we expect change even from MCP just in case they win. Let any party that wins in 2014 free MBC out of politics.

For sure, how can the whole MBC waste money airing a programme aiming at castigating an individual such as that of John Tembo, Joyce Banda (when she was in opposition) and now Peter Mutharika and the late Bingu. I wish MBC was like news websites which publish news impartially.

Let us not repeat mistakes others did for the sake of vengeance but rather change things for better. If citizens are to have democratic choice during elections, allow all competent parties to clash each other ideologically on Public Broadcaster. That will show our respect for democracy above party politics. Let all citizens be treated equality because we are all agents of development regardless of political affiliation.

Political desperation nowadays is also characterised by fighting over the dead. We have seen and heard about political parties fighting over who buys coffin for the funeral in Thyolo, Lilongwe and other places after all when one was sick, no political party official showed up. Desperate politicians want to buy mourners’ votes through a coffin. It is not wrong to buy a coffin for the deceased but in Malawi; it is more of political desperation than sympathy.

Desperate politicians fund projects for political gains other than development. What they have in their heart is, “vote for me because I have done this for you”. If they don’t support your ideologies you start removing iron sheets from school blocks, healthy centres and the like. Some MPs are shifting constituencies for fear of reprimand by their electorates due to their failures.

2014 general election is around the corner, let us choose wisely. Let’s be patriotic about our country and work beyond political will but rather for national interest and the generation to come.

*Robert Masikamu (Public Advisor)
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