We on the streets have for a longtime agreed with many who say politics is a dirty game. Yes, if you think of the rotten tongues wagging at different political rallies insulting opponents,you cannot agree more. Politics of insults and sympathy seem to be a way of doing politics in Malawi.
Not only in Malawi, though. Even the greatest democracy itself, the United States of America has its fair share of tongue-in-cheek political mudslingers. Need I dig deeper into the very character of American president Donald Trump and how he sneers on ‘fake news’?
Although Plato, a renowned philosopher, argues that politics is not a dirty game per se, we agree with his logic that the problem with politicians is that they do anything to gain or stay in power. In Malawi, this is what has characterised politics for decades
For the last two decades, Malawians have hoped to see a change championed by the new blood in the political scene. Think of the days of Bakili Muluzi and his United Democratic Front (UDF) in 1994, Brown Mpinganjira and his National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and also the days of Gwanda Chakuamba and his Republican Party (RP). Although the two, except for Bakili, failed to make it to State House, but their concepts—new ways of doing things—enticed the voters.
Since President Peter Mutharika hand-picked Saulos Chilima to be his running-mate in the run-up to the 2014 polls, the VP has been the people’s hope for change. We on the streets also remember that Mutharika promised us a new Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and with Chilima on Mutharika’s side, we indeed foresaw a new world of politics in Malawi.
But that was not until June 2018, the month the VP came out clear that he is done with the DPP. Of course, we on the streets and fellow colleagues in the offices scratched our heads in disbelief. Yes, the decision had the potential to divide us.
But wait a minute, who would cling to the DPP at the time the party is engrossed in one corruption scandal after another? Maybe you.
Now it seems life as a VP zipped his true mouth and mind. We on the streets have followed up every UTM rally and here we see a man who is struggling to give us the new politics that we all anticipated. Yes, if what the VP continues to give us at his rallies is new politics, then we need to go back to the library and reread our books. Voters need clean politics—free from insults, attacks and sympathy seeking.
Interestingly, the VP can silence his patriots as he did in Nsanje, but not himself. We should remind the VP that an insult does not change its shape if shared through riddles or idioms.
If a whole leader can mimic callously an opponent in public, give contenders names etc, what bearing does that hold ethically? Imagine a politician seeking the highest office, turns public podiums into an arena for seeking sympathy through treason claims. Is this new in our politics?
So, the whole VP office doesn’t know where to go when faced with life-threatening threats? Please, Mr VP, give us new politics. We have had hope in you for a new way of doing things. Leave the dirt for others and you shall enjoy our votes come May 21 2019.
We on the streets are afraid that the VP is already risking our small pockets again. Such assassinationsclaims have in the past cost the tax payer’s huge sums of money. Maybe the VP was not interested in politics then. We do not regret to remind him of the several treason cases that government lost.
Think of the Sudi Adak Sulaimana treason case in which the suspect sued government for K5.8 million compensation in 2002. Government also staggered in the Cassim Chilumpha treason case after spending heavily on flying in 15 foreign witnesses. Fifteen other witnesses were local. By 2015, government had coughed over K600 million in tax-payer’s money in the case. Think of how much that would have done to our economy. Keep in mind that the Nkhata Bay district hospital was at some point pegged to cost K150 million to build!
This is why we on the streets are sensitive when would-be leaders start making allegations with a history of poor success. We will repeat today that the more one wastes time attacking others, ethical issues come into play and sympathy plays an advantage in other camp. n
—*Sharra is a guest writer of this column.