KARONGA (MaraviPost) — It is an indisputable fact, in Malawi – and it could be extended to the whole African continent – that politicians play about with people the way hit-and-run goers at most night clubs do with condoms. The theme of abandonment in African politics has been there since time immemorial.
With Malawi, the situation is the order of the day. Usually Members of Parliament (MPs) will appear and disappear every five years. There are in their constituencies for campaign for two or three months – prior to the elections – and after that they are away for some solid three or four years in the capital Lilongwe for ‘meetings,’ or enjoying the comfort of their posh residencies in Chimaliro, Sunnyside or Area 10.
Maybe that is why some quarters have opined that there should be a law that gives constituents power to boot out parliamentarians who get elected to disappear. But the trend, it seems, is not just limited to MPs. Ward Councillors, elected in the May 20 disputed tripartite elections, aren’t different. They have resorted to the same lies, proving right the age old adage that all politicians are liars.
The list could go on and on.
But there is a politician in Malawi who has always been different: James Nyondo. While most of the country’s politicians would desperately want to do anything – even if it means uttering the bluest of all lies – to win some presidential race, Nyondo, it seems, has the interest of the common people at heart first.
He told MaraviPost that “politicians must be honest men and women, with sound knowledge of what kind of people they claim to represent.
“Only through that can we be development conscious. Development must start with individuals, and then it must filter out to the society.”
And maybe Nyondo could just be a man of his words. Towards the 2009 general elections, when he first stamped his presence on the Malawi political scene, Nyondo was verily involved in escapades that sought to improve the lives of ordinary Malawians. Among other things,
Nyondo helped out with the installing of boreholes across the country so that people could access safe drinking water.
The US based trained lawyer, about to complete his JsD (Doctor in Law) studies in South Africa, in the very same elections sponsored over 100 aspiring MPs to pay the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) nomination fee pegged at K100, 000. And, Nyondo was only an independent candidate then.
“I did all that because I believe in change, and reformation,” he said. “I want things to go the right way in Malawi.”
Among some issues Nyondo made headlines with – in his bid towards the 2009 presidential race – were, among others, to bring to a halt extravagant spending of public resources. He said then, and re-iterated in the May 2014 disputed tripartite elections that he would have a 15 member cabinet if he got elected as president.
Malawi has, now, a 20 member cabinet under incumbent President Peter Mutharika but, of course, with a horde of presidential advisors.
Even after performing not so inspiringly in this year’s elections, Nyondo says the good job of helping out those who are in need must go on. Politics aside, he says, good life must still be everyone’s strive.
On the 18th of May, 2014, Nyondo and his team found a widow with five children in the Mwenilondo Village in the lakeshore district of Karonga. Apparently, their house had gone down with the earthquake that had hit the district in December 2009 –, and for the four following years the family had resorted to sleeping in a shoddy structure they called ‘house.’
“We spent our nights in the open while guarding our few possessions,” Mary Nyankhonde, 47, said with a teary reminiscence.
And May is winter, the period when Malawi can sometimes be bitingly cold.
“My husband’s relatives have never offered me help,” said Nyankhonde. “Since my husband died some eight years ago, I’ve been all alone – the breadwinner of the family.”
But today, Nyankhonde is all smiles – something she couldn’t afford some three months ago.
James Nyondo, under the Alabama Malawi Investment Partnership (AMIP) has managed to build a house for Nyankhonde and her five children. Seated outside her floored veranda last week, Nyankhonde said nights are no longer a nightmare at all.
“I’m thankful to them [Nyondo and AMIP) for the house. My children and I are happy – most grateful.”
Nyondo said money for the labour and walls was donated by John and Anne Cox, Ed and Rita Hoff and Andy and Collin Barr – all couples that are part of the AMIP. And money to finish the house was provided by Jo-Anne Dammaco.
“If there is any credit,” said Nyondo, “it should go to these Americans who provided a home for this family.”
His plans between now and 2019?
“I will demonstrate my ideas to Malawi, especially in Chitipa and a ward in Blantyre where we’ve already rolled out projects.
“Talk is cheap,” he said.