DPP must go back to people

JANUARY 2, 2012

Dan Msowoya and his Alliance for Democracy (Aford) might be petty in the eyes of Information Minister Patricia Kaliati from the pedestal of privilege bestowed on her by Malawians.

But in the face of the problems facing this country and what Aford and others are suggesting—that DPP goes back to the people to gauge whether it still retains their trust and mandate to rule Malawi—Kaliati should not even attempt to be clever when she is not and dismiss it outright as she did.

In fact, by dismissing it using a fallacious argument that because Aford is small and, therefore, not worth engaging, she is displaying two things in the public: ignorance and unbridled arrogance.

But Malawians are used to DPP’s arrogance and I will not waste newspaper space today to dissect Kaliati’s empty dismissal of Msowoya and Aford as a club with just two MPs. Posterity will judge Kaliati and her ilk on that.

What I will do, with your indulgence, is to use the hot blade of logic on butter to dissect what those who are telling the DPP to go back to the people to either seek a fresh mandate or check whether the party still has the trust of Malawians to rule, are saying.

Whether Kaliati and her DPP like it or not, the Constitution, which happens to be the supreme law of Malawi under which all Malawians, including President Bingu wa Mutharika, must bow, is very clear in Section 12(i). It is not ambivalent when it says all legal and political authority of the State derives from the people of Malawi and shall be exercised in accordance with this Constitution solely to serve and protect their interests.

The Constitution adds in Section 12(iii) that the authority to exercise power is conditional upon sustained trust of the people of Malawi and that the trust can only be maintained through open, accountable and transparent government and informed democratic choice.

It does not need the hot brain of a rocket scientist to realise that Malawi is currently in trouble socially, economically and politically. It does not require a complicated survey replete with jargon that social scientists love so much such as samples, margin of error etc, to know that Malawians are a frustrated lot and are not contented with this DPP rule.

How can they be when queues have become a way of life? How can they be happy with a government that has failed to reign on inflation, resulting in daily rise of prices of goods? The stark reminder of this was once again on display during the just-ended festive season when the price of drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, went up from nowhere.

How can Malawians be happy when jobs are being shed off every day because companies have lowered production as they cannot get raw materials from abroad because there is simply no forex?

How can they be happy with a government that makes blunder after blunder resulting in diplomatic relations being messed up? Indeed, who would be contented with a government that churns out bad laws at the rate Japenese cars are produced in Nagoya?

In a true vibrant democracy, there would only be one course of action open to President Bingu wa Mutharika and his DPP, and that is to resign to pave way for others with new ideas.

In Europe, there is a crisis over debt and Greece is the epitome of it all. Prime Minister George Papandreou stepped down when his ideas could not work anymore. Someone has stepped in.

The European crisis has not spared Italy, one of the continent’s biggest economies. It has cost the job of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, yes that one of the Bunga Bunga parties fame. Someone stepped in his shoes when it became clear that national debt was getting out of hand and it needed fresh ideas to arrest it.

I do not expect in my wildest dreams that Mutharika and his government can resign over our crisis. How can I when the President refuses publicly that there is a crisis in the first place, but takes every opportunity to highlight imaginary successes of his government in 2011?

The President also knows that if he were to resign today, Joyce Banda would ascend to the high office and that thought alone should send a chill down his spine, especially with the way the Vice-President has been shabbily treated.

Yet the Constitution is clear: The President can only govern through the trust of Malawians and there is evidence that this trust is gone. The President cannot resign, but the minimum I expect of him is to call for a referendum to ask Malawians whether they want an early election and depending on the results, put in place the necessary instruments to comply.

But I am not naive not to know that this is a tall order for the arrogant Mutharika administration, which is a tragedy for this country. Malawians are stuck with an unpopular government with a questioned legitimacy until 2014.

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