The importance of people in a country cannot be overemphasised. People have power to put a leader into power and they also have power to remove him/her from power.
One can remember the Arab Spring in North African countries where demonstrations and no-stop vigils did the trick to remove presidents from power.
Recently, it happened in Sudan, where President Al Bashir, who was one of the toughest leaders in Africa, surrendered power after pressure from people who no longer wanted him as their leader. He was embarrassingly removed from the State House into prison.
The problem in Africa is that most leaders seem to think that once voted into power, they have tamed all the people under them. What follows is that they become impervious to people’s suggestions. They also deceive themselves into thinking that they will remain as leaders and never be followers to someone else. Strange enough, some even deliberately forget that they are running democratic governments, which are ‘of the people, by the people and for the people’. Therefore, people must be at the centre-stage all the time and it is up to every leader to take care of the people by first listening to their demands.
Currently, Africa is faced with a problem of xenophobia, which started in South Africa and has now reached dangerous levels whereby lives are being lost. It is likely that the people of South Africa have for some time been talking to their government about why they do not want foreigners. South Africa would have discussed the issues with governments which have their people in that country. In this way, the xenophobia attacks would have been avoided.
A lot of jobless Malawians go to South Africa to do menial jobs such as being housemaids and working as farm labourers. On a number of times, they have been victims of xenophobic attacks. In such cases, the government has been organising buses to bring them back home. Unfortunately, after arrival here, most of them immediately returned to South Africa. This is embarrassing to the Malawian leadership and government that people can put themselves on a firing line because of menial jobs which are not available in Malawi. During the election campaign, President Peter Mutharika promised jobs. But up to now, when he is starting his second-term, jobs are nowhere to be seen. In fact, promising people lots of jobs, when the country has no factories, is cheating people in order to buy votes.
Meanwhile, there is need for leaders in the Sadc (Southern Africa Development Community) region as well as the African Union (AU) to urgently bang heads and sort out the xenophobia once and for all. This is not the time to be making the usual vague statements that ‘Africa is one and it was the colonialists who divided people’. Xenophobia should not be taken as business as usual. It must be noted that it can easily make countries ungovernable.
Currently, Mutharika is having a taste of disgruntled people who are making him to have problems in governing the country. Malawians have a myriad of problems with the Mutharika administration. What is bothering Malawians now is their claim that their votes were stolen due to mismanagement of the May 21 elections by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC). The fact that Mutharika was declared winner, he seems to have no time to listen to people in rural areas, who usually say ‘let bygones be bygones’, painfully to have voted for change. Some Malawians are bitter and have to be listened to by the President.