50+1 may come back with a bang!

Hon Folks, just two days to Christmas and nine days to another brand New  Year, hooray!

Let’s  thank God for the abundance of his mercies. By grace, He has given us  life and He alone nurtures and sustains it every day.

Let’s also thank Him for allowing that we have Malawi, a country endowed  with abundant resources and breathtaking beauty, to call home.

Whether you are a Christian or a non-Christian, feel blessed that we have  the magnificent Lake Malawi and the Shire River which together gracefully run through the entire length of our country from Karonga up North to Nsanje down South.

There are also many tributary rivers throughout the country feeding the lake  and the Shire.  Our  heritage also includes fertile soil, the chambo, Mulanje cedar and a diversity of minerals yet to be exploited.

Our challenge remains that with all we have, we are rated the poorest by GDP  per capita and we score among the least by human development index (HDI)  measure. This is a problem of leadership.

For too long, our leaders have measured development by infrastructural  projects—roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, etc—built mostly with donor  aid and government contributing 20 percent or less counterpart funding.

APM shouldn’t expect credit only for the schools, hospitals, roads and stadiums built on his watch. We should also demand of him improved quality of education, health care delivery and sports,

Isn’t it ironic that government spends more than 80 percent of domestic  revenue on the recurrent budget which finances fraud, corruption and  inefficiency, pilgrims to UN General Assembly and many other areas where wastage is rampant and expect us to be contented with crap exemplified by

the 25-hour load shedding programme?

Probably this is why APM fears the 50+1, thinking that the reason MCP president Lazarus Chakwera threw his weight behind it was to bring down the  DPP government this December.

APM also alleges that Chakwera hoodwinked an old ally of his government–the Public  Affairs  Committee (PAC)—to help him fight his political battles.

Could this be a spin by some political advisors who have never been on the right side of history from back in the days of Kamuzu? Or could the yarn be from the intelligence?

The 50+1 system isn’t about Chakwera but the electorate, the majority 63.6 percent whose vote in 2014 counted for nothing.

By seeking electoral reforms including the change in the way a president is elected from from past-past-the-post to ensuring that the winner has the mandate of the absolute majority of those voting in an election, they do not necessarily prefer Chakwera over Mutharika.

Rather, they want fairness to ensure the majority of the voters are not disenfranchised, which is what happened in 2014 when APM was declared the winner after getting a meagre 36.4 percent of the vote.

The same thing happened with Bakili Muluzi in 1994 and Bingu wa Mutharika in 2004. They rose on a minority vote and, like APM today, were held to ransom by their base, a situation that yields impunity. When the base pulls the strings the youth on the governing side feel entitled to unleash violence on the opposition. Likewise, cronies in government feel entitled to flout systems believing the President has a duty to shield them as payback for their support.

Cronies in business feel entitled to supply substandard goods and services at twice or treble the market value as long as they show unflinching loyalty to the president and the governing party.

A case in point is the over K6 billion cronies borrowed from the defunct MSB without collateral. Until now, government has failed to collect a penny. All it did was to make Malawians settle the debt!

Although 50+1 may not guarantee good governance—in  fact, winning by absolute majority turned Muluzi (1999-2004) and Bingu (2009-12) into monsters—at least it guarantees that the majority will elect a President who serves as Head of State, Head of Government and Commander-in-Chief of  the Armed Forces.

So APM should not worry about Chakwera using 50+1 to bring down the government. Chakwera trailed APM in 2014, garnering a miserable 27.8 percent of the votes.

If that scenario were to repeat itself under the 50+I system, it would mean  the two of them—and not the 12 among whom the presidential vote was split in 2014—competing again in a run-off. The winner would not be Chakwera but the one with greater appeal to those voting.

Has the trick to take to Parliament an adulterated 50+1 Bill and use MPs on the governing side to shoot it down settled the issue?

DPP may have hoodwinked PAC to call of demonstrations that had all the signs of being nothing less than massive. By hook or crook, the governing side also got the numbers in Parliament to thwart the wishes of the majority.

But PAC was only served as the conscience of a national problem to be  solved. The 50+1 doesn’t belong to it either. It’s major stakeholders are the voters who see flaws in the first-past-the-post system.

APM should think about voter reaction should government shenanigans result  in a repeat of the 2014 scenario. They will be angry, no?

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