The May 2014 tripartite elections are just around the corner. Political parties are moving up and down selling their well-articulated manifestos to the prospective electorates across the country. Obviously the race involves the United Democratic Party (UDF), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), People’s Party (PP) and Malawi Congress Party (MCP). It is amply clear that the four big parties are to blame for the continued misery and abject poverty haunting the majority of Malawians as all of them have at some point ruled the country.
But come what may, the winner in the May 2014 polls will come from the same list and this is what is making real citizen become frustrated cognizant of the fact that the above named parties failed the Malawians at some point when they were given a chance to turn around the Malawi’s economy.
Malawi Congress Party enjoyed thirty years in government but what they managed to achieve was to instill fear among Malawians and killing those who opposed their leadership style. Patronage politics characterized the MCP era. Access to resources was determined by closeness to the ‘de facto king`, Banda. Kamuazu Banda was called by many names of fear, not for good, but as typical African dictator. Instead of respecting him, his own people feared him. Nobody mentioned his name without impunity. And now when people hear the name ‘MCP’ what come in their minds are all the atrocities which happened during the party’s 30-year reign. Anyway, the party has a new president who is a born again christian but the fact remains MCP was once given a chance to rule but Malawians ended up being ruled as goats and cattle.
United Democratic Front (UDF) which succeeded MCP in 1994 was to some extent just a replica of the Banda’s regime. The only difference was just that UDF ruled in a democratic environment where on paper people had the right to oppose some of the issues if necessary. UDF era was characterized by oppression, hunger and poverty. It was really a betrayal to the Malawians who had high hopes that socioeconomic grievances were over following the ushering in of multiparty system. Even the young Muluzi has made it clear that the UDF regime was good for nothing by disassociating himself from the father. Yes! Now the party has a new presidential candidate who happens to be the youth but the fact remains UDF was given a chance to rule the country for ten solid years and it failed to rule as expected by voters.
The 2004 general elections reflected well the UDF poor leadership as opposition parties gave the then UDF presidential candidate Bingu Wa Mutharika (may his soul rest in peace) tough ride. Some people up to now believe that UDF won the elections through dubious means. As the Chairman of the party thought that he could still cling to the driving seat, Mutharika surprised the party officials by forming his party Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Formation of DPP virtually got a blessing from all Malawians who were by then tired of UDF leadership.
We all know the story when it comes to Bingu Wa Mutharika. He performed extremely well in his first term but his last term was characterized by bitter political climate. He forced ordinary Malawians to be self reliant not in good faith but because donors closed up their doors following his dictatorial tendencies. Markets, vehicles of private radios, properties of activists were being set on fire. There were vicious verbal attacks against the opposition parties on national airwaves. Should I also need to remind you the 20 July horrible panorama?
It is a disputable fact that many Malawians were sent into wild celebration upon hearing the death of Mutharika thinking that it was the beginning of new lease of life. What Malawians wanted was just a new leader and qualities were not of much importance. This was the time that even an ordinary person from Chavala village could be allowed to rule the country because what mattered most to Malawians was the change itself.
But alas! The People’s Party has just added an insult to injury. In a space of 22 months the party has managed to buy expensive cars in the name of well wishers. Government officials have also become millionaires overnight courtesy of the “Cashgate scandal” at Capital Hill. Sadly, instead of accepting their negligence of leaving the padlock open the ‘Amayi’ administration is on record saying the massive looting of public resources is a milestone in their efforts to end corruption.
Those are the choices we have and now considering that they are already failures the campaign has been a cat fight so far. All the political parties have reverted to scare tactics and have presented no real plan to move the country forward.
Independent-minded Malawians clearly aren’t satisfied with the choice they have been presented. Neither side in this campaign has directly addressed how they would fix the economy and reduce the poverty levels. Instead of telling the electorates what they would do in the next five years, all leaders have resorted to attacking each other. Sure, it’s entertaining at times, but in the end it only polarizes the nation even further and distracts us from real issues.
So what do the disgruntled voters do given that situation? There are a number of other candidates who will be on the ballot such as Mark Katsonga, James Nyondo, but many feel they don’t want to waste their vote on someone who is implausible to win. Others will stay home, but most disgruntled voters would agree that’s a pretty weak way to protest thus they will pick the lesser evil from the four evils. Indeed, disgruntled voters will cast their votes with pain since the choices presented are not worth it.