Hon Folks, after the Institute of Public Opinion and Research (Ipor) released its report on the political environment in Malawi in the run-up to the 2019 elections, the reaction was narrowly trained on who could’ve won the presidential race if the polls were held in Q3 of 2018.
But the study had the broader scope of gauging people’s views on the state of the country as we inch towards the tripartite polls.
If I were in the think-tank of the major political parties in Malawi—DPP, MCP and UTM—I’d not waste time using the study to satiate egos of politicians whose political capital has been wastefully expended in decisions and conduct that have earned them a huge loss to reputation and trust.
Folks, the report in question, a credible outcome of a meticulously executed random survey of the electorate, reveals a disturbing truth that voters have bundled politicians—Peter Mutharika, Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima included—on the bottom rung of institutions and leaders they respect and trust.
Chiefs, despite being rated as corrupt in previous Afrobarometer surveys, together with the Army and religious leaders, are by far more trusted than people vying for the highest office in the land. Their cronies too who by the end of the day fill up posts in the Cabinet, party NGCs, Parliament and local councils are equally least trusted.
Any wonder then why the registration exercise is mired in apathy! In many districts, the number of people who have registered this year is way below the number of those who voted in 2014, let alone MEC’s projected figures of voters in the 2019 elections.
Ironically, the percentage of pro-democracy voters (70 percent) is much higher than the 64 percent who voted against the one-party system in the national referendum of June 14 1993. The study reveals that 90 percent of Malawians hate both one-party dictatorship and military rule with a passion.
Why then is there less enthusiasm to register and participate in a democratic process of giving mandate to holders of political offices and keepers of the public purse?
If the three major contenders in the 2019 presidential polls were honestly seeking to serve their motherland, they would acknowledge that none of them garnered enough votes to justify exercising power of state with the mandate of the people.
Fancy, in 2014 APM with Chilima as running-mate got 36.4 percent of the votes. In the study, the same APM emerges the winner but with 27 percent, implying he’s no mandate from the majority 73 percent of the electorate!
Lazarus Chakwera (MCP) came second with 24 percent, and new kid on the block Saulos Chilima (UTM) came third with 16 percent of the votes.
Folks, where’s democracy when unpopular leaders, rising on a tribal vote, lead without the mandate of the majority of the people?
Nearly 80 percent of Malawian voters, including 66 percent of die-hard DPP supporters, believe the country is going in the wrong direction. Surprised? The vision we collectively mooted at the dusk of the 1990s set as a goal that Malawi would be a middle income economy of “milk and honey” by the year 2020.
Now, with only one year to go, Malawians identify “food shortage” as number one national problem. Where’s the milk and honey? Where’s the middle income economy when we are rated third poorest in the world by [gross domestic product] GDP per capita and our score on human development index (HDI) is equally very low?
Every year government allocates no less than K40 billion to farm input subsidy (Fisp). Billions are also allocated to irrigation farming and food relief (consumption subsidy). Yet, we remain perennially food insecure and are failing to diversify, rabidly banking on tobacco when the whole world is at war against it, why?
Corruption! The study reveals that 60 percent of the people fear corruption has increased in the past 12 month. Not only that, the governing DPP is not only perceived to be the most corrupt party but most violent also. By the way, congratulations to Mr Charles Mchacha, you really must’ve done APM proud to appoint you Deputy Minister of Homeland Security!
In conclusion, I would like to plead with all aspiring for the office of State President in 2019 to read carefully the Ipor report. It’s an indictment that politicians are a problem and not a solution to our quest for a better and happier life.