Voters can force older men to behave!

Hon Folks, as registration of voters, is in progress, Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has released the outcomes of the exercise in the first three phases that covered districts in the Central Region.

The figures show more women than men have registered. I guess there is little, if any, surprise here since there are more women than men in the country.

We also know that the youth constitute another significant demographic group. In fact, the under-35-years group is projected to make up more than 60 percent of voters in the 2019 tripartite elections.

Babies of 1994 when Malawians ushered in the first multiparty government will be voting for the second time!

The irony is that the two groups—women and the youth—who enjoy numerical supremacy at the ballot are also the ones who have been let down most by those who depend on their votes to assume elected political leadership positions.

In democracy, the majority rules, they say. Yet in our democracy, women and the youth—the majority—do not rule. They are an insignificant minority in the Cabinet, the party politburo or corporate boardrooms.

Whether vacancies are in decision-making posts filled by election or appointment, they are dominated by order men. Women and the youth constitute the crowd at rallies where they play the cheerleader—singing, dancing, cheering and applauding. Some of the youth go to the extent of painting their bodies in party colours!

The older men at the podium watch and get entertained by the majority oppressed by deprivation. Every year a third or more of the population is food insecure, corruption and inefficiency are draining up to 30 percent of public revenue and the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is now the third lowest in the world. Living standards as measured by Human Development Index (HDI) are also among the lowest in the world.

When there are no drugs or food for patients in hospitals the older men in decision making positions use taxpayer’s money to seek medication abroad. When there no teaching and learning resources in schools the older men send their children to schools abroad at the expense of the taxpayer. While women and their children are starving, the older men use taxpayers’ money to import bottled water and toothpicks!

When donors, out of pity for the suffering of women and their children, give us aid, the older men don’t even use it for the intended purpose, let alone account for it properly. Now donors have stopped giving us budgetary support and more and more development aid is disbursed through NGOs. Even aid is on the run, scared of older men in government!

This nonsense must go for the sake of our country and our children who are already saddled with debts taken in the name of development but with very little to show for it.

Debts incurred for the purchase of tractors and other farm machinery from India in the name of Greenbelt Initiative are accumulating interests which our children will have to pay for. Yet the tractors and other farm machinery bought with the borrowed money were shared among the older men in power and are now private property.

Debts incurred for the construction of roads keep stockpiling as the older men execute projects at a chameleon pace, resulting in cost overruns which are managed by incurring more debts.

But the older men in government do not just want to make lives of our unborn babies miserable. They are also doing their best to ensure they live in opulence at our expense. Now we know that suppliers to government who know what’s good for them overcharge for the goods or services rendered to raise extra millions of kwacha for oiling the machinery that corruptly facilitates the deals.

We also know that our tariffs for electricity and water include costs of corruption and inefficiency in the parasitatals concerned as well as bad debts incurred by various other institutions in the public sector.

Failure to address these anomalies have resulted in the older men at the podium trying to woo voters by lying. They lie that they have developed the country and that our lives will improve if the status quo is maintained. They give the poor free food, iron sheets, cement and money to make them numb to the pain of deprivation.

The majority should have entertained these older men at the podium with dirges!

Change can only start if the majority use their power at the ballot first to demand for inclusivity. Women and the youth deserve to have their numbers in the Cabinet, Parliament, wards and in boardrooms significantly increased.

They too must participate in determining their fate instead of looking to older men to fight for their needs. The 50-50 campaign is a step in right direction but what’s the rallying point for the youth who make 60 percent of the population?

Unless candidates get it in their heads that ignoring the needs of women and the youth means losing an election, they will not change. Women and the youth must be made to realise the enormous power they have not just to change party manifestos but also their status from cheerleader to VIP decision-maker.

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