“Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. – 1 Samuel 17:34-35
On March 9, 2019, the Malawi Congress Party became the first major political party in the 2019 tripartite elections to launch the party’s Manifesto 2019-2024. Wrapped around the motto to “Build a New Malawi on the foundation of a Democratic Developmental State powered by the Chakwera Super Hi 5.” The vision is laudable in that among the many promises are an acknowledgment that agriculture is the Malawi’s backbone, and specifically building its household security would be a factor in the development path the party will take.
Additionally, the manifesto would operate within the ambit of democracy as fuel for developing the country. Lastly, the MCP manifesto, without coming on strong, is the homage the MCP Manifesto pays to the Father and Founder of the Malawi nation, former President Dr. H. Kamuzu Banda, by featuring in the artwork of the Manifesto, numerous landmarks that are signature development projects that came out of MCP rule; they were the pride of the nation, brought transformation, and which the MCP now promises.
It would appear to be correct that the Manifesto’s “five priority areas have been identified are in sync with Agenda 2030 at the global level and Agenda 2063 at the continental level, since these development frameworks have been instrumental in framing the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) III, which is the country’s medium-term development planning framework.”
However, some would disagree the laudability of the MCP Manifesto, and indeed some have even started already started parading the sins of the single party rule under Kamuzu Banda. To 17 million Malawians, predominantly in rural Malawi, the Super Hi 5 might sound lofty, cosmopolitan, and a bit like eating democracy.
But this can be dismissed here because firstly, former President Kamuzu Banda is not on the ticket; and secondly, the MCP’s 72-page document is a great attempt of painting the party’s vision for its 2019-2024 administration. The Chakwera Super Hi 5 are Prospering Together, Uniting Malawi, Ending Corruption, the Rule of Law, and Servant Leadership.
There will be no eating of democracy. Like his predecessor Kamuzu Banda, Chakwera outlines key promises and commitments the MCP aims to fulfill once elected to power. The sections (for space not all are included) speak to the challenges Malawians are facing, the promises MCP makes, and commitment to conducting the same in the democratic culture. The MCP envisages creating a platform on which every Malawian is given the opportunity to triumph and carve a livelihood within their setting.
Under the GOVERNANCE AND PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION tier, the MCP promises to
- Establish special Anti-Corruption Courts to clear the backlog of outstanding corruption cases and expedite the conclusion of similar cases going forward. (This shows government’s accountability by bringing to justice offenders of the law, whoever they may be).
- Ensure that the President appears before Parliament to answer the people’s questions relating to his office for the sake of transparency and accountability in government affairs.
While Malawi follows the American Presidential model, it is essentially a bicameral system with a parliamentary model tailored like the British one. While British the prime minister is daily grilled by the lower house of parliament in the UK, in Malawi the President has served mainly as the “Opener of the Parliament.” This promise will be keenly watched for its implementation in an MCP Government.
On ECONOMIC GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT, the Super Hi 5 promises to “introduce universal Farm Input Subsidy Program to spur agricultural productivity as a key contributing factor to a minimum annual economic growth rate of 6% for the next 10 years.” It also promises to “revitalize the operations of the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) through a comprehensive review of its mandate, governance, management, and recapitalization to re-establish its market network across the country.” This sector also includes a section that promises to “set up a bank to concentrate on giving credit to the youth and women to increase their access to and full participation in the country’s mainstream economic processes.”
Since Malawi attained its democratic status the three sectors that have suffered the most are the agriculture sector, women, and youth. Speaking to these sections of society, is a huge plus for the MCP.
Under SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, the party tackles the current most pressing issue: bone hunting of persons living with albinism. The party promises to
“End the abduction and killing of people with albinism by treating these crimes as capital offences punishable by death without the option for clemency; and
“Implement the National Action Plan for protecting persons with albinism and introduce social cash transfers for them to have a dignified way of life.
As for the issue of giving credit where credit is due, the MCP Super Hi 5 aims to “construct a state-of-the-art national netball complex capable of hosting international competitions to fast tract our 10-year goal to become the number one netballing country in the world.
And finally, the party aims to establish the long-awaited National Truth and Reconciliation Commission that would facilitate “a nationwide process of addressing prevailing historical wounds and charting a united way forward.” This is a brave move by a political party in 25 years of democracy in Malawi.
This section also tackles gender inequality; and to this the party promises to “enforce and promote the 2013 Gender Equality Act as the basis for redressing the gender imbalance in the employment and appointment of women in decision-making positions.” Political parties in Malawi, are yet to live up to their promises for gender equality, we are hopeful that the law (notably passed when Malawi had a woman president – former President Joyce Banda) will be fully implemented.
Under the section of INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT, the party promises to establish modern bus terminals in every district across the country and introduce city lines and the Futran System to address urban transportation problems. This vision brings back memories of Stagecoach, Limbe Railways and even the Illala.
In the last section titled HOMELAND SECURITY AND FOREIGN POLICY, the MCP aims to “take immediate executive measures to stop the killing and abduction of people with albinism and guarantee their security at personal, household, and community levels.” In pursuant to this first critical section, the party has put on the board the need to establish “a new Police Academy as a strategy to increase the number of police personnel with advanced skills and techniques in crime detection, investigation, and prosecution.” It will also improve the terms of service, increasing police presence in the rural areas, as a tool for enhancing law and order, to stamp out illegal immigration, illegal imports and exports, human trafficking, and drug trafficking and smuggling.
On foreign policy, the party speaks to “equitable and meritorious distribution of appointments to diplomatic missions, including a gender balance, for the nation’s interests.
Lastly, the MCP turns to the military with the aim of strengthening its capacity to defend the country from any external aggression at all times, whether on land, or lake, or in the air, or cyberspace.
The MCP’s vision to build a new Malawi, is forward-looking; it is also laudable that as the first major party to introduce its manifesto, it is concise and complete, invoking a reminder of the former glory of development-rich Malawi.
Long live genuine democracy!
Janet Zeenat Karim
Author of Women & Leadership: Women are the Change you seek
…..but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15