When I said that President Joyce Banda will probably be as corrupt and autocratic as the other former presidents of Malawi, my wife disagreed. Among her many great qualities, my wife leans on the positive side of things, always looking to the bright side. She certainly sees a very positive ending to President Banda’s reign as Malawi President. I sincerely hope and pray that Her Excellency does her a favour by proving me wrong.
I am the doubting Thomas who tends to be very sceptical when it comes to having any expectation from our political leaders, especially Malawian ones. I am the “In God I trust, the rest bring evidence” kind of a person. This scepticism and lack of faith came as a result of having been failed several times by our leaders.
Since Bakili Muluzi’s second term as president, I have always advised people to trust politicians at their own peril. There is a precedent set by Malawian presidents, starting with Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, to Muluzi and latterly Bingu wa Mutharika. All these leaders started very well but quickly turned into monsters when power got into their heads. If President Joyce Banda can learn anything from the past leaders, it would be to know that how one finishes is as important as one started.
While I sit behind this computer bashing our former leaders, I must say though that they are not entirely to blame. These men became what we made them to be. As soon as they assumed power, we formed praise singing bands around them, gave them too much power with which they tramped on us. We clapped hands as they buried our heads in the sand. Power is sweet, and it certainly does corrupt. How I wish we all learnt from our past experience?
So I am not surprised that songs of praise are now directed to President Banda and to be fair, she deserves some of it given how she has started. However, is she going to maintain her sanity in the midst of adulation from the “praise team” and hand clappers? Will she maintain her sound judgement when she wins a landslide in 2014 and 2019? Can she take the tough economic decisions at the expense of her political popularity?
Whilst I hope that she does, I have my serious doubts which are based on history, which may well repeat itself very soon. Something tells me that she is moving her political pawns very carefully because her eyes are fixed on getting elected in 2014 and she will continue to move the pieces on the chessboard until 2019 so that she gets the second full term. After that, I believe she will deliver a very painful checkmate. Her government will probably be as corrupt, if not more corrupt, than the previous ones and we may soon see a huge mansion somewhere in Zomba, with an unclear source of funding.
The responsibility rests with us, Malawians, to prevent this from happening. We have to give credit where it is due, but also hold her accountable because we have elected them to serve us, not the other way round. Given the trend, I shall be voting for her in 2014, but not in 2019. I have concluded that Malawian leaders deserve just one term and not two.
So here is my prediction, or call it Vision 2020: If President Banda gets re-elected in 2019, she might become corrupt and autocratic just like the others. She will be the leader we deserve if she turns out to be another monster. I hope that she will prove me wrong.
On a lighter note, I must say that I admire the “Chi-Joyce” [the cloth President Banda puts on her shoulder] and will be buying one for my wife to wear at special events like bridal showers.