We have heard the slogans and promises of the various candidates and political parties as they desperately try to win a seat either as a councillor, member of parliament or president.
The promises being made are the same old ones Malawians heard when Bakili Muluzi contested and won the presidency in 1994. For example, clean water was a campaign promise in 1994 as it is now. And sadly 50 years after independence, some Malawians still do not have access to clean water yet a third of the country is covered with fresh water in the form of Lake Malawi.
And 50 years after we started claiming to be independent, our food production still relies on mother nature — rain — when we could have used irrigation.
While you can choose to understand what I have written in your own way, my point is that our today’s politician lacks realistic long term goals that can transform their constituencies and the country as a whole. It is not enough to say that one will bring a health center to an area. Yes, it may sound popular with the electorate but the question is why the area does not have one 20 years after multiparty democracy and 50 years after independence.
This is the time contenders should be articulating why our health sector will improve and why our education system is performing poorly after all these years. It is farfetched to say that living standards of the people will improve without having to spell out how that will come about.
Without a doubt, many of these public office seekers must be commended for their courage. There are many who are qualified but choose not to run for office because it is not easy to subject your life to the challenges of running for public office.
On the other hand it is the choice they make and that is what I take issue with as most come into public service to enrich themselves at the expense of the people they want to help hence we must hold accountable our public leaders if we really want to develop.
Turning to the elections themselves, if we go by how fragmented the opposition parties are, it seems the next elections may not produce a majority government and what that means from experience is that we will have many members of parliament switching parties to the ruling one soon after the election.
We must not embrace this behaviour in the forthcoming parliament. I know the country let this culture grow in the previous administrations but it is unconstitutional and should not be the case anymore. Political parties should not be used as a ticket to get to parliament. At the same time the ruling party must not use the back door to acquire the numbers it needs to control its agenda.
What should not be forgotten is that parliament is an equal branch of government for a reason. It provides checks and balances to government affairs. Corruption is prevented if parliament functions independently. Have people ever wondered why the national budget is controlled by parliament?
It is unfortunate that there is no distinction between government and parliament today hence corruption is the order of the day. If we are to let our democracy develop and if we are to focus on getting ourselves out of the economic doldrums in the near future, then we should hold our elected public officials accountable. Let us start with the next parliament which us going to be decided on May 20.