If you ask any person why they did not vote for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) president Peter Mutharika, top on the list would be because the Mutharikas are perceived to be nepotistic. A few other people would cite fear of a repeat of DPP’s poor human rights record.
It is not like the critics have no basis. No! The first eight-year rule of the DPP was riddled with nepotism and patronage. This saw wealth being concentrated in a few people’s hands at the expense of other able Malawians.
That said, I do not think that Mutharika is more nepotistic than the rest of us. Show me a Malawian voter who votes for national good and I shall show you a liar. Some voted for a candidate other than Mutharika because they feared that Mutharika would continue with the DPP’s quota system of selecting students to universities. While others voted for Mutharika because they would have some personal benefit from his rule. There is a tapestry of reasons. Either way, one has self interests in their vote.
Dr. Murendehle Juwayeyi put it well in The Daily Times of July 1 when he argued that voting along regional lines is rational in Malawi.If voters are not nepotistic, why is it that the Malawi Congress Party (MCP)’s Lazarus Chakwera got a measly 5,757 votes from Thyolo and Mulanje combined? The same voters gave Mutharika a total of 388,147 votes!
Why did Lilongwe and Dowa combined give Mutharika a meagre 154,083 votes while Chakwera received a whopping 663,134 votes?United Democratic Front (UDF)’s Atupele Muluzi swept away Mangochi and Machinga with 296,520 votes while Mutharika and Chakwera combined, snatched away 103, 706 votes.
Should one say that Machinga and Mangochi did not know who Mutharika was not to vote for him? Are we saying that with all that campaigning Lilongwe and Dowa did not know who Muluzi was not to vote for him?Why did People’s Party (PP)’s Joyce Banda carry the day in all districts in the North except Likoma Island? Is it because Banda told the voters in the North that she belonged there by virtue of being married to retired Chief Justice Richard Banda who comes from Nkhata Bay?
Why didn’t the North vote for Chakwera whose wife comes from Rumphi and whose running mate is from Karonga? Is it not that in their culture the Northerners considered that Chakwera’s wife was a Chewa by marriage while Banda was a Northerner based on the same reason?
Some Southerners complained that they did not benefit much from Banda’s rule. They claimed that Abiti akudya ndi akuchimuna (our in-laws are benefiting more from our sister’s rule). Is it coincidental that Banda lost Zomba to Mutharika and Machinga and Mangochi to Muluzi? Interestingly, after her defeat at presidency, Banda retreated to Nkhata Bay to be with her people.
How we form our parties.Besides the tendency by voters to favour candidates from their districts of origin, our political parties also thrive on peer groups.
Media reports have it that MCP members have written the party’s leadership protesting against the dominance of people from the Central Region in their National Executive Committee (NEC). The supporters contend that people from the Centre account for 90 percent of the party’s NEC.
Now if the MCP had won, would it be surprising if the Centre got a lion’s share of public appointments? Do we really expect a party leader to sideline colleagues who gave him the winning formula and incorporate others who have no idea about the vision that guided the campaign?
This brings us to the origins of cabinet ministers. I totally agree that we really need to spread the opportunities for people to serve in our government. It does not look good when appointments are skewed towards one corner of a country.But I do not agree that development should always be tied to the direction of a cabinet minister’s district of origin. My own area has been home to powerful ministers and secretaries general of ruling parties, but there is not much to write home about in terms of development.If that were the case, Dedza would have been the most developed district in Malawi. Malawi’s most influential and longest-serving public figure, John Tembo, hails from Dedza. He has been dictating public events for over three decades, but is Dedza developed?
“It is not only government that is to blame. The civil society is full of entities that are run like heritages. One finds that from the board of trustees to the national coordinator right through to the office hand, all of them come from one region, if not even a village. Then there are private companies where English is not an official medium of communication. This has even spread to churches that all senior pastors share a district or region of origin with the founder.
It is not right and it has to be targeted at every level. Otherwise, what you are speaks too loud that I cannot hear what you are saying!