University of Malawi political science professor Ernest Thindwa says the presidential running mate debate conducted over the weekend has exposed serious weaknesses in the running mates, which he says need to be addressed if their parties are to be voted into power.
Commenting on the conduct of the debate which private radio Zodiak Broadcasting Station organized on Saturday in the capital Lilongwe, Thindwa says despite the fact that the debate was the first of its kind in the country’s political history, no one would expect it to match the western type of political debates, it has however shown how ill prepared some political leaders are in handling matters of national importance.
“Organization wise, the debate was good but the content and the response from the presidential aspirants left a lot to be desired and I can say that we have a long way to go. There was a serious gap in terms of the candidates being prepared to present a case as a potential government,” the Chancellor College academician told Nyasa Times.
Thindwa says debates are an opportunity for political party and indeed an individual presidential candidate to sell their electoral program so that they win the presidential and parliamentary race.
“ Now you could see from the discussions that perhaps the candidates were not as prepared as they should have been and they seemed not to have a glimpse of what it takes to run a government or what it takes to have a national program designed to sell to the electorate at a basis for national development. ”
He says there wasn’t much conviction in terms of coming up with solutions that are affecting Malawians in general and social-political and economic situation in particular.
“There wasn’t a candidate that specifically came up with kind of action plan or an indication of having a concrete step towards addressing Malawi’s social economic ills. If you look at the debate yesterday [Saturday] the candidates were asked ‘what is your party’s position on gays’ none of the parties came up with a solution. We don’t want to have a party that is not decided on an issue which citizens think it is important.”
Thindwa said it is important for the candidates participating in future debates to ensure that their manifesto is at their finger tips so that what they want to tell Malawian is contained in their manifestos and beyond that they should be able to come up with concrete broad strategies to deal with social ills.
“Malawi needs solutions not just aspirations. If you look at the debates there were more aspirations, ‘we will do this, we will do this, we will do this’, but they are not telling us how, because the questions is how are you going to do that. Doing this is important yes, but the policy issue is how to do that, so there is need for adequate preparation in terms of coming up with practical issues to solve Malawian problems”.