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HomeOpinionZ Allan Ntata’s Uncommon Sense –How to de-throne Mutharika (and all his...

Z Allan Ntata’s Uncommon Sense –How to de-throne Mutharika (and all his friends)

Peter Mutharika
Malawi President Peter Mutharika

This is an urgent call to all Malawian youth.It is a manus clamantes (call to arms) and a modus operandi (a way or method) all rolled into one. These are serious times for Malawi; times that need and demand serious answers to serious problems.

With the Malawian general election just about 2 years away, the question that anyone who loves Malawi and wishes her well must be asking is: if the pathetic Peter Mutharika and DPP rule will come to an end, is there any hope that whoever will take over will improve the Malawian condition?

Of course, as the Afro-Barometer survey has indicated recently, Peter Mutharika could be ousted and the opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera finally be elevated to the place he thinks he has deserved since 2014.  The survey not withstanding, 2019 could even usher in this mixture of novices and recycled political rejects and incompetents calling itself DEPECO.

But the question still remains: What have these people said or done that promises change? What exactly will motivate the voter to vote for one of these over another?

With 30% unemployment (40% among the youth), the corruption impunity of Peter Mutharika’s administration, and the real possibility that the country’s finances are somewhat bankrupt due to continuous looting, I believe that it is time for Malawians to take a different path from our normal brand of market politics which has seen us blindly following and voting for individuals regardless of their corrupt character or cluelessness, just simply because we perhaps come from the same region or tribe.

It is time for anger; a productive kind of anger that has its precedent and reference in the righteous anger of the country’s forefathers – Chipembere, Chirwa, Chisiza, Chiume and Kamuzu Banda.

The kind of anger that changes a country, however, cannot be simply expressed on social media or in private conversations at the pub. It needs a movement, and most importantly, a movement led by awakened and enlightened youth. Not youths that are happy to be voiceless cadets as long as they are appointed to pointless board member positions in parastatals, nor youth that are prepared to almost kill anyone who dares to criticise their party leader, constructively or otherwise.

In a word, what the Malawi really needs is for its serious youth to form an effective protest movement. If we look at events around the world, we see how what start as small, inarticulate and youth-centred movements transform themselves into what some have called the most interesting political developments of the 21st century.

What Malawi needs, then, is a hybrid and novel experiment of online and offline activism that steers clear of the traditional and weary avenues of political engagement.

To progressively change the country, we must studiously avoid engaging with rotten political agendas, hardline party politics and, most importantly, this generation of self-centred professional politicians. It is important to ask the question why these people – the Mutharikas and the Chakweras – who had perfectly good jobs wherever they came from, decided to quit their jobs and come to loot Malawi, or join Malawi politics at all, especially now that we have all seen that they have nothing special to offer.

A youth led political movement is what is required; one that will fill city streets, co-ordinate online actions and target specific topics like corruption, tribalism, nepotism and electoral reform. We must experiment with a bottom-up networked approach to challenge the rigid, top-down, party driven system that has dominated Malawian political life since independence. City street by city street, individual meeting by individual meeting, thousands of youths must come together in a networked approach to politics that is fresh and engaging because it defies, above anything else, the hierarchical approach favoured by vested interests.

The movement’s strategy must be based on assembling ad hoc citizen coalitions to help push back and challenge specific government actions; trying to figure out how to affect policy by exerting force on specific choke points in the system that badly need reform.

We must understand, and accept, that our political leaders, worried about intra-party politics, re-election or special interests will never see the importance of this.

What I am suggesting then is that in our anger with the currently rotten political framework, we, the younger generation must use our power of the modern media know-how to break entrenched silos and find ways to make the political process more responsive to the needs of everyday citizens.

So, for example, the movement can actively welcome President Mutharika’s call to abduct corrupt ministers and demand their resignation or even arrest. He may think it is a joke, but it is a tasteless joke and we must take him to task with it. After all, he has already approved this course of action! We all saw that it was only after public pressure that Peter Mutharika eventually fired the Maizegate-corrupt George Chaponda from Cabinet. Most of the concerns of this country can easily be acted upon spontaneously after information is exchanged on Twitter and then co-ordinated through the use of hashtags, whatsapp groups and the participation of progressive radio stations.

Is this a long-term solution to Malawi’s problems? Probably not. But actions such as these can start to change the perception and the dynamics between citizens, politicians, political parties and even private sector economic interests.

Furthermore, they will force politicians to reconsider how they include the youth in the political and policy-making process. To put it quite simply, we must make our anger with the system be heard. Loud and clear.

When Peter Mutharika and the DPP are busy promoting projects with no real community value for instance, erupting protests within hours of his nonsensical speeches will make him reconsider doing that again in the future. It will send a strong message to his out of touch puppet-masters and speechwriters.

Offline and online, the youth networks must kick in. In a matter of hours, streets and squares must be filled and a political activism site must immediately be created that will no doubt gather hundreds of thousands of signatures demanding that the president must retract or put in place a policy that is actually beneficial to Malawians and not to his pocket and the pockets of his sidekicks.

It is only when the youth get tired of being used and become filled with a righteous anger for the good of this country that a side of Malawi never seen before will be revealed: a resilient and politicised public willing to get involved to change the modus operandi of the system. In other words, the disruptive power of networked politics will be revealed.

The next step is to start thinking in terms of outcomes. Not in the traditional electoral sense. If we will be unable to change the result of the election, then we must at least make sure that whoever becomes president enters the state house knowing that the game has changed and it is no longer a case of business as usual, (or should I say looting as usual).

Such a youth led movement needs to redefine political goals, metrics and ways to interpret and understand government accountability and political participation. It needs to create a sense of hope among the general public that, alongside the established tired politics of old –a new layer of political participation is collectively being woven; one that can actually transform this country, which is reeling under the weight of corruption, greed, self-centredness and a totally rotten political framework that actively encourages all these.

Now, if ever there was a movement that our youthful Vice President must as a matter of principle support and promote, that is such a movement!

More Articles from Barrister Z Allan Ntata




Z. Allan Ntata
Z. Allan Ntata
Z Allan Ntata is a Barrister of Middle Temple, Anti-Corruption & Governance specialist and author of Trappings of Power: Political Leadership in Africa. Currently an Independent consultant in Governance and Anti-corruption, Ntata has a diverse background from lecturing in law to acting as legal counsel to the president of Malawi.
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