Thursday, July 13, 2006

Dr WAMUTHARIKA NOT A FAILED PRESIDENT BUT RATHER A BEACON OF HOPE"

Bright Mac Everson Malopa

For some Malawians like my friend Mr.. Likambale, It would appear like living in the past is an attractive temptation. But I'm sure Most Malawians will understand as I do, why going back in time holds fewer attractions for the nation at large. A few short months ago Mr.Likambale and other politically twisted commentators wrote Dr Wamutharika and the DPP led government off. But these political obituary writers were rudely interrupted by the very people the political establishment often forgets – the voters.

DPP's spectacular triumph on December 6 2005 showed us the way. And why? Because Dr .Wamutharika is serious about politics and serious about government. Under difficult political terms of reference, Wamutharika and his government have been providing the inspirational leadership which has allowed our country to renew itself after years of,mismanagement,economic stagnation, drift and decline by equipping us with the freedoms and national self-confidence to shape the future. It seems to me that Dr Wamutharika's essence of democracy has always been a belief in human nature as distinct from abstract ideology and that the essence of human nature is adaptability, flexibility, ingenuity.

Contrary to Mr Likambale's painted vague picture on the present state of affairs, Dr Wamutharika’s policies throughout the past twenty four months have always been designed to give these virtues room to grow. The UDF, by contrast, always had been trying to constrict human freedom, to direct human energies down specific approved political paths. They continue to constrict human freedom today only that this time it is restricted to their party. Twelve years ago, a perceived quasi democratic revolution based on liberal ideologies began when UDF was voted in power. Battered by regulations, taxes,and inflation,the enterprise of Malawian people - which under MCP had once produced enough to eat and save and served as a model of prosperity to ailing African economies - was exhausted by UDF’s class policies of greed, corruption and intolerant to dissenting views.

They were no better than the MCP. In order to examine Dr wamutharika’s government in as far as democratic progress is concerned, we must examine the past regimes first two years in office and compare it to date The first two years of MCP were the worst in Malawi’s history. The decisive event in Malawi’s post-independence history began as the celebrations of nationhood were scarcely over. On July 26 1964,barely twenty days after independence, Dr.Banda attacked unnamed members of his government who disagreed with his policies. This followed by Dr Banda’s infamous cabinet crisis which saw the dismissal of Kanyama Chiume,Orton Chirwa,Augustine Bwanausi and Rose Chibambo leading to the resignations of Yatuta Chisiza,Henry Masauko Chipembele and Willie Chokani.

Followers of these brave sons and daughter of Malawi were beaten and tortured by the MCP with Banda’s authorization when he personally said: "These people are wild animals now. They must be destroyed. No beating about the bush. Arrest them.But if they resist arrest, anything you do is alright so far as I am concerned” In his book Philip short records Banda as saying, “there is no opposition in heaven. God himself does not want opposition, that is why he chased Satan away. Why should Kamuzu have opposition?" All who thought this was over when MCP were voted out were in for a rude shock. Immediately after elections of 1994, UDF declared the policy of non-cooperative governance where they vowed never to work with Malawi Congress Party (MCP) party, despite Dr Banda’s offer to support the UDF government. UDF went further to take over assets under MCP under the principle of “Doctrine of Necessity” Again during the last two years of UDF, we saw the manipulation of the national executive committee by the President.

Dr. Bakili Muluzi and the party did their best to starve its followers of their democratic right to choose and debate issues freely and objectively. Despite the defeat of the two bills, the debates they had generated, respectively, were so acrimonious that the tensions caused rumbled on for a long time, partly due to another move within the UDF that caused great controversy and, just as the debates on the two defeated bills had done, led to much bitterness and agitation. As CHRRC observed, the government found itself, once again, facing a concerted opposition comprising the faith communities and civil society organizations. This led to the erosion of every liberal democratic value which was the basis upon which the party was formed. Public officers, parliamentarians, clergies and journalists were clobbered with undemocratic fists of the young democrats .

Of course adversarial politics will not go away. Indeed, it will intensify, for the simple reason that politics like any other game is defined to highlight differences between opposing views.For one to be in politics,the opponent's view need to be wrong. The nature of the intensification is, however, novel: people may be less desperate than in history.What matters most here is not the level of political differences but rather the degree to which opposing views can agree on something in the interest of the nation. Thus where as the aim of previous governments were to destroy political opponents, this government has taken a consultative approach.Opposition politicians are now regular visitors at the state house discussing issues of national importance. But most importantly is UDF 's treatment to its own citizens as a one time victim-a journalist by the name Chinyeke Tembo said as an attempt to summarize UDF’s pseudo democracy on Malawitalk when he said:

" Look at those UDF leaders, and remember what they did to us journalists during their fight for the 3rd Term.I was almost killed by the Young Democrats at the Shire Bus lines Head Office, which was the financing centre for all the killers who saw nothing good in some of us.Who knew that today, we would have some of these leaders of The "Men In Black" in custody now. They almost killed Nation Photojournalist Daniel Nyirenda (Now with Daily Times), who was even hospitalised at Mwaiwathu Hospital, then they harrassed Brian Ligomeka (now Sunday Times), Publisher John Saini, Freelancer Frank Jomo, Nation Reporters Pilirani Semu-Banda and her hubby Mabvuto, assaulted Hardy Nyirenda at Ryalls Hotel (Now in London), beat up many and all that. Then today you expect me to feel sorry for people who almost had me six-feet under!I never at any moment thought UDF would be a party with its politicians on the run. How time changes" The change being referred here in by Chinyeke is the changing process which has seen a reversal of both MCP and UDF‘s unchallenged political orthodoxies where the rule of law did not apply to the connected and ruling elite.

For me, there are profound ethical and philosophical reasons to take an issue with the UDF’s general approach. But, crucially, there is a more important reason why we should all reject the instincts of the UDF to control and direct. "Their policies have proved to be disastrous". Who knows what both MCP and UDF governments would have done with Lucious Banda and Maxwell Milanzi if it had been in office when the president was indicted for impeachment? Once Malawi was the graveyard of democracy. Under this government it is becoming the cradle of democracy. DPP has shown that it is the driving force at Capital hill and now parliamentary politics too. It is no longer a party born out of frustration or a UDF break away protest group. It is now a political power. People have seen the difference when Dr Bingu was ushered in two years ago, and can testify what the nation has gone through. They have seen the opposition becoming regualr visitors at state house.

They have all witnessed a citizen-centric government at work reshaping our welfare system, rebuilding a broken society in attempt to secure it against poverty, while creating a system founded on opportunity and responsibility with incentives to work and to save and they know that it is now a party willing to think anew. A government not only interested in the wealth of our country's history but also a government willing to develop fresh ideas. A government drawing on enduring social democratic principles but ready to apply them in a rapidly changing world. This is evident by the government’s commitment as a party of opportunity, aspiration and ambition. We have seen the youth whose role in politics was to whip people through MYP and young democrats.

Under UDF, politics became managerial, not inspirational. The MCP have taken the same course, shunning conviction and desperate only to emulate a value-free patronage and antagonistic politics. These barriers have been brought down by Dr Wamutharika. The youth are now taking strategic tasks which were a monopoly of grey haired chauvinists. Dr Wamutharika’s economic revolution has proved that there are no short-cuts to prosperity. It comes without saying that one will have to think twice before engaging himself in activities likely going to be in violation of the law. It is no longer unthinkable that society is realistic about the state's ability to address social needs. People now know that corruption acts as a deterrent to economic development. They now know that just as wealth creation depends upon the energies of a free people; a good society depends upon the active compassion of free and independent families who not only fear the law but are also equally protected by the same law regardless of their political leanings.

On economy, the government has achieved what both the UDF and MCP governments failed to achieve when on 24th February this year, the Executive Board of the IMF completed and approved the first review of the Poverty Reduction Growth Facility (PRGF) and commended Government on its improved public financial management against a backdrop of a severe food crisis. For the quarter ending September, 2005, the Government met all the quantitative and structural performance targets. The Board further indicated that Malawi could reach the “completion point” under the Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) and would simultaneously qualify Malawi for the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) by mid 2006. Government was further commended On 27th March 2006 by the Society of Accountants in Malawi (SOCAM), Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI), Economics Association of Malawi (ECAMA) and Bankers Association of Malawi (BAM) with facilitation from the National Action Group Forum Secretariat (NAG Secretariat), came together to provide one joint submission that broadly represents the views of their respective memberships which among other things came said:

This engagement with private sector was more extensive and deeper than experienced at any point in the past. On environment Government is reversing the environmental degradation through sustainable policies. Of late we have all heard that Government has planted over 45 million trees since Dr Wamutharika took over. Without doubt, the pristine nature and the panoramic splendors of our past which slipped into oblivion are about to come back to redecorate the virgin beauty of mother Malawi. The only people not happy with these progressive developments are the same political sadists facing a paralysis at the heart of their party. They have been politically meandering and are now confused in their lacquered heads. The only card they can play now is to deceive the public that they are being politically persecuted but their point of view cannot hold any water because they are being arrested and tried in violation of the law.

Agreeing to their putative thinking would mean that every single and influential politician should be let loose to plot the killing of opponents as well as embark on corrupt activities without fear of the law. That is a complete absurdity if you pursue that argument to its logical conclusion. If it is true it means that nothing can ever be done by the Government because It means that no Government has any function or any purpose. To listen to their cries is to pursue a policy of complete surrender and a surrender to tyranny and lawlessness and policy of the "red flag." No sane government can raise a "white" flag to lawlessness and enter into a policy of surrender, of negation, by which any policy can be frustrated and blocked in Malawi by corrupt and assassin politicians.

This will be a battle of a myriad of small wounds, not the clash of two great swords. It will be waged in courts and the supervisory boards of regulatory agencies, in the communications media and think tanks, in the electronic universe and in the minds of the electorate. But regarding the overall achievement by Dr Wamutharika’s government, My grand-mother Gogo Namlengeni in her dental bankrupt mouth as evidenced through her difficulties to pronounce Bingu once summarized the two regimes by saying: KOMA A BINZUWA NDIYE AKUYIGWIRA NTCHITO.ENA AJA ANKANGOKHALIRA FWETSEKE a rather crude chewa translation for “Bingu pronounced as Binzu is working hard compared to his former who was busy swearing and had a violent language whenever holding a public rally. It is no longer surprising indeed to see that the main opposition parties are in their lowest form. They have more internal fights ever than before.

No one knows who will lead the local election campaign in the event that one is staged. Dr Muluzi and hon Tembo are all surviving by their thinnest political skin of patronage and intimidation. We have just seen Malawi’s most democratic successful two years. The government must build on that success - as nation become more successful. Now that the government has made some remarkable progress, there is a need to move further on the progressive indices and build a fairer Malawi, not the means-tested, target driven, over-centralized country previously run by the MCP and later destroyed by UDF Jamahiriya policies. Government policies need to be thoroughly tested.

They will be subject to new levels of aggressive scrutiny because UDF and the MCP realize DPP is their principal opponent in all parts of the country. They will turn their guns on the government purely on no basis other than frustration because they have nothing to offer. It must be every DPP member’s pledge now that where they see unfairness they must challenge it; where they see injustice they should attack it; and where the nation see prejudice ,they should be allowed confront it because to be serve under Dr Wamutharika led DPP government is to be a trustee of a great movement, with so much to be proud of - but with so many dazzling achievements still to come

References:

malawitalk/nyasanet discussion forums,Lwanda, John Lloyd Chipembere. 1996. Promises, Power Politics and Poverty: Democratic Transition in Malawi. Glasgow: Dudu Nsomba, UNDP. 2000. Human Development Report 2000. New York: Oxford University Press. United States. Department of State. 2004. "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2003: Malawi," 25 February <http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27737.htm> (accessed 18 April 2004).----. 1995. "Malawi: The Transition to Multi-party Politics." In Democracy and Political Change in Sub-Saharan Africa, edited by John A. Wiseman. London and New York: Routledge.Debate." African Affairs 103: 91-107.Somerville, Keith. 1992. "One Man Banda." New African (July).Tsoka, Maxton Grant. 2002. "Public Opinion and the Consolidation of Democracy in Malawi." Afrobarometer Paper No.16. Cape Town: Institute for Democracy in South Africa; Legon-Accra: Ghana Centre for Democratic Development; East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University.UNDP. 2000. Human Development Report 2000. New York: Oxford University Press.United States. epartment of State. 2004. "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2003: Malawi," 25 February <http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27737.htm> (accessed 18 April 2004).van Donge, Jan Kees. 1995. "Kamuzu's Legacy: The Democratization of Malawi, Or Searching for the Rules of the Game in African Politics." African Affairs 94: 227-57.Venter, Denis. 1993. "Malawi's Referendum on Multi-Party Politics: Banda's Battle of Hastings?" International Update (January). Johannesburg: South African Institute of International Affairs.

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