Hail the year of reckoning!

Hon. Folks, hello 2019, the year of reckoning! Between now and the time of tripartite elections in May, candidates aspiring for presidential, parliamentary and local government positions will work very long hours and spend money, most likely a lot of it, to prepare for victory.

The pressure will particularly be too much for the major contenders in the presidential race. APM would really want to renew his tenure at the State House, anything less than that wouldn’t just constitute a mere loss in an election but also legacy, a smashing vote of no confidence.

Unless the incumbent does it the Mandela-style, announcing way in advance the intention to serve only one term, the honorable thing is secure a mandate for the second term.

As for those in opposition–Lazarus Chakwera, Saulos Chilima and Joyce Banda–hearts are going pit-a-pat, anticipating a comfy lifestyle at the State House befitting HE, the President of the Republic of Malawi. The power, the wealth, the respect…

But while each one of the presidential candidates has the chance to win–it’s voters who decide with the ballot paper–the fact remains that there can only be one president at a time. Prudence therefore necessitates that each candidate must also have a well planned for Plan B, life after losing in an election.

While anticipating victory, APM must also anticipate to serve as a “toothless” former president in the event that the electorate denies him the vote. Chakwera must probably anticipate end of the road should he lose again this year, having also tried and failed in 2014.

As for Chilima, he would probably have another chance in 2024 but the charm of being a new kid on the block will have lost much of its potency. As for JB, it’s already uncertain whether she has the backing of PP (no primaries so far) and another loss in 2019 will surely entail end of the road for her political career and maybe for PP as well.

All I am saying is that preparing in advance for life after losing an election will help losers accept defeat honourably.

Which reminds me of some unfinished business especially on the part of those aspiring for the presidency. Give the people good manifestos, not cheap handouts. Manifestos you will fulfill, for that matter.

 Leaders who fail to articulate their game plan on governance and development are bad leaders who bank on politics of patronage, nepotism and other vices. It’s hypocrisy to preach unity and “civilized politics” while banking on savage divide-and-rule politics of tribalism and cronyism.

Talking about good governance, it’s clear that corruption is the biggest vice that has eroded the confidence of the donor, investor and, more particularly, the tax-payer who’s double taxed by meeting the heavy cost of the malfeasance rocking the entire public sector from top to bottom.

Cashgate has also revealed that well-connected unscrupulous businessperson make their wealth by facilitating the siphoning of revenue from public coffers at a lucrative commission. Mo Ibrahim, Transparency International, Afro Barometer and most recently, Ipor, have all measured the perception of corruption in Malawi and they come to the same conclusion–it’s high.

Even the much-touted Millennium Challenge Corporation governance measure published as latest propaganda material by the APM camp shows that among seven key performance indicators–control of corruption, rule of law, health expenditure, governance effectiveness, freedom of information, primary education expenditure  and land rights and access–control of corruption is given the lowest score at 59 percent.

Government may earn kudos for zeroing in on business person Zameer Karim, Senior and two police officers implicated in the most recent food ration scam but in case anyone out there wants to start smiling, be reminded that the K1.7 billion corruption scam in which former President Bakili Muluzi is implicated hasn’t moved an inch since it started in the first term on Bingu wa Mutharika’s tenure more than 12 years ago.

The DPP government has chosen to spare Muluzi from trial. Let’s see how the Karim case will pun out in light of his strong connections to people in very high places. Will it be another Muluzi epic-like trial?

Since taming corruption means putting to good use the financial and other sources we already have, aspirants for the highest office in the land ought to commit more than mere pledge to fight graft. Malawians need to know how they intend to fight corruption differently.

Malawians, voting for a person who isn’t ready to put each and every Tambala of our tax money to good use is voting for the perpetuation of poverty and deprivation. This is the year to vote wisely. 

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