For the first time in the history of our democracy, a Presidential debate was organised and broad cast live on some radios and television stations. 8 Presidential Candidates participated that included Atupele Muluzi, Abusa Sigh, Kamuzu Chibambo, Friday Jumbe, Mark Katsonga, James Nyondo, Professor Chisi and Dr Lazarus Chakwera. President Joyce Banda and Professor Peter Mutharika were among those that did not make it citing tight schedules. The debate centred on key issue of education, health, governance, agriculture and food and food security.
If the aspirants had to draw resolutions for Malawi to move forward, then some 10 keys one would be:
1. Implement universal Agricultural Subsidy Programme. Such consensus has been missing for the past 20 years. Turn agriculture into agribusiness.
2. The education system must be revamped and meaningful investment be made to improve access and quality.
3. Corruption is the major explanation of challenges facing the health sector leading to over reliance on development partners.
4. Executive Powers must be trimmed and spread across the other arms of government like Parliament and the Judiciary. These arms must not be treated as government departments.
5. Poor Governance and corrupt leadership are the major factors contributing to the development misery in Malawi. Malawi need a fresh thinking and starts to move forward.
6. Political leaders must not corrupt government systems and benefit more from it at the expense of the ordinary people.
7. Malawi citizens must be involved in planning, implementing and monitoring and that transparency and accountability must be the language of leaders.
8. A new and inclusive approach to leadership must be adopted where every citizen irrespective of political inclinations participates in governing the country. No one should be punished because they support a particularly political party.
9. Change is necessary and change of players is necessary.
10. The elected president must be on top of this agenda of transformation and sacrifice political ambitions for the sake of Malawians. He/She must face citizens while in office to continue with the dialogue.
Listening to them all, one could easily get the sense that they all mean well and wish Malawi a success. It was great to see them debating with sober minds, focusing on issues. Like members of the same family, they agree with great passion that it must be business as UNUSUAL after May 20.
Thumbs up to the aspirants who turned up for the debate and chose to discuss issues with voters. They ALL WON the debate as they have helped voters to make informed decisions on May. They are all passionate about a better future for everyone. They may just differ in determination and resolve.
A New Malawi is possible.
The Debate was necessary!