The choice of lesser evil is harder than you think: Malawi 2014 Elections

The recent political violence at Goliati, Thyolo has been thoroughly scrutinised and rightly condemned by all sane and peace loving Malawians. But these have not stopped the subsequent blame game between DDP and PP about causes and perpetrators of the violence. The positive thing however is that both DDP and PP are clearly aware that Malawians will not tolerate violence. I made my point on this in my last entry on this page and this time I want to look at the same issue from a different perspective.

Consider these questions: does the Goliati violence suggest that the political parties involved love Malawi so much that they could start such violence in order to win elections so they could make Malawi a better place? Was this violence a suggestion that DDP and PP love Malawians to the extent that they could actually put lives of fellow Malawians for the greater good of this nation? The short answer is no. The violence points to what is really at stake for a governing party: bounties so large and inviting that folks would risk innocent lives just to get their hands on the bounties of this land.

The most absurd thing is that after all these ugly scenes, whoever takes bigger blame in the on-going blame game, DPP and PP remain among top contenders in the 20th May elections. The whole point of Lazarus Chakwera recent meeting with President Joyce Banda is a realisation that there is actually a political mileage to be gained in  the Goliati violence. Likewise Atupele Muluzi has come out strongly against the violence.

Malawi 2014 presidential candidates: Joyce Banda, Peter Mutharika, Atupele Muluzi and Lazarus Chakwela
Malawi 2014 presidential candidates: Joyce Banda, Peter Mutharika, Atupele Muluzi and Lazarus Chakwela

Joseph Chunga, a Chancellor College-based political scientist has been quoted in the local news media arguing that the electorate must not vote for political parties involved in any kind of violence. True. Violence not only shows irresponsible, intolerance and lack of concern and respect for human life, it also indicates that political parties involved have no policies to sell to the electorate and therefore not ready to govern. The Goliati violence was reminiscent of some Mexican drug cartels fighting a territorial battle and control, not political parties positioning themselves to form the next government.

The violence indicates continuation of politics of retribution should DPP or PP forms the next government. Politics of retribution is not healthy and it is among key factors have undermined development in Malawi. All is not lost here, if political parties are reluctant to have policy-based campaign then let us make decision on their reputation. Don’t they say action speaks louder than words? After all 2014 elections was always a choice of lesser evil – no single candidate stands out. 2014 elections is a battle for a place at the highest table of the land, a battle of prestige and control of state resources, not a battle to make miserable Malawi a better place for all Malawians.

Make no mistake, it is not an easy task to choose between a serpent and an alligator but this is the choice Malawians must make in these May elections. Malawi can be a very painful place if you care about issues that really matter. In fact, every Malawian must consider including on their CV an experience of living in a failed state where politicians plunder and loot with full knowledge that nothing will happen to them.

It is a time for reality check. Fantasy is what we all want but reality is what we need. Fantasy is ‘Malawi the warm heart of Africa’, Malawi ‘the God fearing nation’ but reality is that since 1994 presidents in Malawi have left office with the country statistically poorer than it was when they came to power. The reality is that after 50 years of independence Malawi remains among the poorest countries in the world. Up to 40 per cent of our annual budget is subsidised by well-wishers while our neighbours are graduating to middle income countries.

I would not be surprised that Malawi is the poorest country in the world that has never been at war. Every day counts now and your vote will put someone in power for the next five years. Let us love our nation and think carefully when choosing the next administration. I am sure we all want to see Malawi becoming what we want to believe it is: the warm heart of Africa.

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