Since the democratic dispensation, most people in this country that have aspired for and ascended to the high office of citizenship in the land did not and still do not understand their role as citizens, they were not then and are not now prepared to be citizens. This is a result of the kind of education we give which does not prepare anyone of our people for citizenship.
Country wide evidence has shown that the Constitution is not read by the majority of our people, not read in any of our elementary schools, Secondary schools and even in our University colleges. And if it is read at all, it is not understood, close to Christians reciting the Lord’s Prayer without understanding it.
In what sense then, can we regard our young people, the “upcoming” leaders or anyone else for that matter aspiring for the high office of citizenship as able to carry out the mandate that they should have as the governing elite in this country? Simply put we have not taught ourselves to be patriots, we are simply not leave alone democrats, we are not attached to our land, let alone have love for it and for one another.
Unless we radically reform our system of education in Malawi, teach our students as well as the broad citizenry how to be patriotic, how to read the constitution and have them read and understand it, make it a bedside companion for all citizens – a secular Testament if you will, unless we prepare ourselves for citizenship as I think we are not hitherto, the future of this nation, both politically and economically is seriously in question.
My honest assessment of Malawi presently is that of a state in deepening political, economic and social crisis, clearly caused by inadequacies of a system of governance, and exacerbated by poor participation by the polity in decision making because they do not understand their individual roles and importance. The National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) need to roll up their sleeves and get to work, we are several decades behind time in evolution.
The national Curriculum has recently undergone review where Chichewa has been made a core subject, meaning it is compulsory for each student to learn. To begin with this is unconstitutional. Granted that people are free to live in accordance with their cultural imperatives and morals, it is impossible to achieve this reality without the dominant language of a given cultural group.
Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika’s administration has premeditatedly and deliberately imposed this aspect of the curriculum based on the morally incorrect assumption of a majority opinion. Even if that was so, where was this consensus reached? In matters of this nature the huge ethnic dominance must not be a tool to undermine the identity, and a weapon against the dignity and integrity of the minority.
We therefore do not support this curriculum as it stands now with specific regard to language. We strongly advocate that children in the respective geopolitical areas be taught in the dominant vernacular language of that area. The North can be comfortable with Tumbuka. The imposition in the revised curriculum is akin to cultural imperialism, where the prime objective is to subdue other cultures; and eventually push them into oblivion, because language is the vehicle by which a culture manifests itself.
Government is reluctant to unleash knowledge about citizen participation in decision making processes, hence decisions that afflict them on a daily basis. As a result, they are hitherto still afraid of their very own government. Consequently Malawi remains a country of the future, forever a promise waiting to happen, a dream yet to come true while those in positions of national power continue to fleece the nation, and to abuse and degrade the people. They have effectively perpetuated corruption, indolence, fear, and confusion; and these have negatively affected the majority of our people, they are still denied effective participation in governance, which is the basic tenet of democracy.
Voices of bitterness against the dreaded Quota system for instance have fallen on deaf ears. Why? The reasons are many and varied, but most prominent among them according to me are: Lack of Accountability, and Lack of Leadership. And closely related to those are; Arrogance; Ignorance, Incompetence and perhaps mediocrity also.
Accountability is the foundation that supports the three pillars of democracy, namely Freedom of expression, Rule of Law and respect for human rights. It must have the strength to withstand the combined weight of democracy and the other three pillars. Without accountability you can’t have true democracy. Lack of accountability continues to be so prevalent in Government that one wonders how such regimes as this last this long.
This government’s image/reputation has deteriorated so rapidly, to the extent that the world view is so negative about us. There is a rising incidence of armed robberies, rape, defilement and murder. Questions as to why this has come about are many but the answers to them are simple; lack of accountability and lack of leadership
The Executive branch liberally continues to treat the Constitution, laws and policies as little more than inconvenient pieces of paper, which is obviously silly; and results into consequence of the engendered mood of laissez faire laxness in government and society as a whole. It would be a cowardly thing in this regard for the President to apportion blame on subordinate staff for the ever rising incidence of fraud, corruption and mediocrity.
We must fight corruption and fraud particularly among the governing elite, to whom development programs count for little, while amassing undeserved wealth, treating it business as usual. Our challenge indeed is to build an economy a thriving and expanding economy together, an economy which offers people rewarding jobs and fulfilling careers.
However the route to that sort of economy lies in ensuring that people progress on merit, rather than privilege, down criminals. Our other challenge is to eradicate the contagion of norm less politics and entrench the culture of democracy, tolerance, transparency and accountability.
The “unilateral” sale of Malawi Savings Bank by the Executive Branch for instance, notwithstanding being taken over by a competent Malawian, while Parliament was still deliberating the same is a scenario unexplained. The full disclosure principle is one of the most compelling principles in the Accounting field. It must apply in full to demonstrate and entrench transparency. Speculation has it that loans for our MPs have been sourced from MSB, and legislators have not paid back the debts. This matter cannot be left to speculation. CSOs, Opposition and all of us must face reality and resolve to call on the DPP led government to quit these dubious dealings; they are tarnishing its own reputation as well as throwing this nation into disrepute. It is a regime with an arrogant tone and demeanor, and such a regime as this lacks capability to run the full term. [s12, Constitution of Malawi].
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