The definition of government must always be remembered to mean the executive (president and his cabinet), parliament, and the judiciary. These are equal in relevance. And the media is the unpaid and often unappreciated fourth arm of government.
The first two are made up of elected officials, with the president able to appoint his cabinet; the judiciary is made up of presidential appointees that are approved by parliament. Readers are reminded also of the fact that the president Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika also holds the honorable title of Global Champion of the #HeforShe campaign under the Impact 10x10x10; this is in recognition of Mutharika’s commitment to advance the promotion and support of women’s empowerment and gender equality.
We give this definition in part to expound how government of Malawi this past year threw women down the scale or worth.
On January 21, 2017, Malawi women participated in the internationally-acclaimed women’s march. This was a great and laudable part of bonding on an issue of global relevance: The United States had in 2016 voted into office of the presidency person who was feared then and has to-date proved to be a misogynistic person, and women mobilized fellow women globally. The women’s march in Washington DC and around the world gave notice that women are watching and want a more responsive government. To issues affecting them.
Since that January 2017 march, Malawi women have ironically, experienced untoward discrimination, violence and downright disregard not only by the ordinary Malawians, but also by the governing structures of the land.
The governing structures include the executive (president -the global gender champion – and his cabinet, and the members of parliament).
This is a terrible blow to a sector that is 52 percent of the nation.
We are alarmed that while women and girls are raped, defiled, beaten or killed, the executive aided by their friends and even the opposition then stepped over the women’s empowerment and equality campaign in Malawi.
We believe as everybody else that when the executive sets up a special commission, it is with intent to gain insight from research, negotiations and inputs from a variety of sectors that are concerned with the issue at hand. The issue of women participation and representation was expertly handled by the special commission of electoral law reform.
We are of the opinion that as far as special law commissions are concerned, the clause in one of the electoral law reforms bills that made the provision for women only ballots in 28 districts, was a brilliant clause.
In one sweep and one signature, bill passed into law, women would have been given a 28-point advantage, making the HeforShe global gender champion nomination of president Mutharika a powerful reality.
We are sad and mortified to find the UN nominated global gender champion, sanctioned his team of experts, cabinet ministers to literary fly through parliament on their brooms scouting for cajole parliamentarians with the lucrative MK200,000.00 in exchange for a No vote of the executive’s own bill.
There is more mortification as it has been reported from the executive chronicler on the process, the minister of Justice and Constitutional affairs, that the 28 women only seats, was scrapped from the bill before it entered parliament.
The special law commission on electoral reform, had persons from the ministries representing the various sectors including the executive. It is alarming that the executive corrupted the bill presented by the special law commission. Furthermore, it is disturbing that the executive then went around buying votes to shoot down the bills.
These actions were followed by a celebration party.
This is absolutely the epitome of kicking democracy in the butt. What was the executive branch and its legislators and “new friends” celebrating?
These celebrants must be reminded that the whole nation was ready and prepared by the PAC-hosted nation-wide demonstrations. The celebrants must be reminded that so frightened were they of a nation-wide demonstration, that they rushed in with the corrupted bills.
Having bought opposition parliamentarians some of whom voted against the bills, while others stayed away from parliament, for the executive to go out partying, is slapping the electorate, whom the special law commission reported as being eager for electoral reform.
Put simply, the Malawi population want better handling of matter to do with elections in Malawi.
We wish to inform the celebrants of the No Vote on the electoral reform bills, that they are not the real winners in this. The celebrations are too early.
There is 2019, less than 12 months. The government needs to reconsider how it is treating women and the whole question of gender equality. The suggestions in the special law commission, were made to level the playing field that would allow for a more, equitable participation of women in politics.
Any government that prides itself of stating its constitution recognizes the equality of men and women, would do what it takes to make that claim a reality; it would not kill it while it is in the womb of justice.
There is a chance for improvement. This can be achieved if governors remember the important principle. And since they are always prone to forget, we humbly remind them. When fighting for freedom from colonial rule, and this was the argument was used to end Apartheid in South Africa: the majority must have a say in the running of the government. Since women are in the majority, it goes without saying that they must be given the opportunity to play a part in governing
This a loud clarion call to the HeforShe global gender champion to reclaim his title and make amends, in the area of promoting gender equality, before the UN comes and calls him out.
Long live genuine democracy!