‘We have put wrong leaders in right positions’

 

Last week, Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya led hundreds of Malawians at Mlare in Karonga where the National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust held a Democracy Fair. His speech centred on questioning why people continue clapping hands for politicians who steal their money. Our Mzuzu Bureau Supervisor Joseph Mwale caught up with him later to discuss this passiveness and matters relating to democracy and elections in general. Excerpts:

Msowoya: The people themselves must make that decision

Q

: What is your assessment of Malawi’s democracy?

A

: Democracy requires responsibility and that responsibility cannot start from the top. People on the ground, in the rural areas, must be taught and that is why we commend Nice Trust for the good work that they are doing because people need knowledge about what their responsibilities are. When they have that knowledge, they begin to act responsibly. But what we have seen in Malawi is that such responsibility has been hijacked by too much craving for money. We have lost our responsibility. We have lost the sense of character. We have sold everything for money. Anything that has to do with money is where we think quality is. Because of that, we have put wrong leaders in right positions and things have not moved. The country continues to be behind all other Sadc [Southern African Development Community] countries. If you look at Mozambique, this country went through 17 years of civil war, but they are quickly overtaking us. Then you have Tanzania, and especially talking from Karonga here, most of the household workers, and those looking for piece-works, were coming from Tanzania during the time of Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, but the trend is changing.

Q

: Why is the trend changing?

A

: The trend is changing because Tanzania has

got good leadership, and we have lacked good leadership in Malawi. So, to reverse that, the people themselves must make that decision because they can think that it is from the top. That it is the Speaker’s office, therefore it is too high for us to correct, but the effects of that trickle down to them and it affects their lives on a daily basis.

Q

: How can people get out of this passiveness?

A

: First is about knowledge because when people have knowledge, they know exactly how to make decisions. But also, it’s to continue just preaching, you know the love of money, all of us are victims of money but must begin to understand that it is not just money that makes things move. It takes good leadership, quality leaders, people who can sacrifice, people who have the patriotism when doing public work.

Q

: During your tour of pavilions, you asked so many questions at pavilion of Malawi Electoral Commission on the 2019 elections. Are you worried?

A

: The idea that we are talking about is we are looking for a greater transparency and better accountability in the electoral process. An electoral process that always ends in court suits, litigations and something, it means there are flaws in it. As Malawians we must accept, and if we are really in business that we want to change our country for the better, then we must not be afraid to find out what the problem is. We must begin to find the process of solving such problems. Certainly, transparency in our electoral process leaves a lot to be desired. I am sure you are aware now that there are two bills in Parliament; there is a private members bill that has been pending for some time. All those things are done because people have realised that probably this is a recipe for war in future. We can keep on hiding, keeping our heads in the sand, but these problems will still affect us and the development of this country.   If people can agree on changes, and those changes to go through normal processes and effected, I am sure they will lead to a better, more transparent, more accountable Malawi for the benefit of everybody.

Q

: Mlare is part of Karonga Central Constituency christened ‘Benghazi’ because of electoral violence. What do you think must happen ahead of 2019 elections?

A

: At first, when the name Benghazi came about, those who participated in the violence looked at it as some source of pride. But overtime, they have realised that such name has not brought any positive image for themselves, and I am sure the aspirants in Karonga Central, do not wish that name to be repeated. I am sure all of them need clean politics and political parties will make sure that they go through the democratic processes in order that leaders who are chosen are those that will not be advancing violence as a way of getting elected.

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  • James Yobe

    The danger of a frustrated voter!!!
    I am excited to see DPP humbled with a vote of no confidence for their impunity, corruption, terrible economy, poor governance and taking Malawians for granted.
    My fear is that, was MCP really the best choice? Or was it a vote out of frustration?
    What is MCP offering different from the status quo? How will they address our cancer – CORRUPTION!! And the other issues DPP has failed to address?
    These are questions that need to be answered for me to be excited for their victory in this battle (not the war). Won’t we see sons of former presidents whom we are investigating for corruption being given ministerial posts? Won’t we have more of the same in just different colors, come 2019?
    The danger of a frustrated voter!!!
    Aren’t we in the same vicious circle where we vote out frustration and don’t care who we vote for? The frustration we had with MCP and Kamuzu and did not care if the next president was just a JCE holder? The same circle that has seen Hethawick Ntaba and many recycled politicians hold office in almost all the presidential terms no matter which party is in office. Wasn’t Gwengwe we are celebrating his victory today, part of the cash-gate machinery in Joyce Banda’s term that brought the country’s economy to its knees??
    They just change colors, it is the same chameleon.
    Until MCP and any other party promise us something different, their victory now and in 2019 is yet another heartbreaking frustration we have to deal with for the coming 10 years.
    Be an informed voter!!!
    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results!!