Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Barack Obama has opened another page in the books of world politics where against all odds; he has become the first black man to be elected America’s president.
He put up a spirited fight from the word go taking each and every advantage to put himself in the lime light whilst developing his campaign around people’s participation. With the help of chief strategist David Axelrod known for his political magic, The Illinois senator built his decisive win on three leadership principles: a clear vision, clean execution, and friends in high places.

While his opponent John McCain is a great American war veteran whose economic platform made better sense for business, especially in terms of free trade, tax policy, and job creation, Obama's message was inspirational in its simplicity. He talked about the failings of George W. Bush. He talked about change and hope and health care for all. Over and over, he painted a picture of the future that excited people with a clear and consistent vision of a change they can believe in. The result was a tremendous success.

It gave American people hope. Rekindled late Martin Luther King’s dream of an America where people will not be judged by the colour of their skin, gave Africa someone to relate to but above all it made people believe that they will have someone who can listen to their concerns. This gospel of change seems not to escape anyone such that even people who have never changed like honourable Tembo are now talking of change.Whilst questions have been asked as regards to what exactly will change, it seems unlike Barack Obama, hon Tembo’s change is something no one can believe in.

The question, however, is not about whether hon Tembo’s change should be believed in or not but rather the relevance of the Malawi congress party as a political fabric in the history of Malawi. Where is the change when Hon. Tembo still presides over the MCP, squashing and trampling upon the spirit of the people who built it through its tenets? Where is the change when those who died for MCP would rise only to be confronted with the sad reality that has seen it degrading itself into a regional and personal estate?
The only change worth mentioning is the change from a truly national Party to a party where all top positions are exclusively predestined for one region, apparently operating from a personal residence and in the process permanently installing Hon. Tembo as chief landlord of MCP. Is this a change Malawians can believe in?

The MCP is neither transparent in its dealings nor fully accountable to its wider membership. Furthermore, the current leadership’s trend of clogging the whole hierarchy with people from one region has failed in its political function to inspire the nation and attract support from other regions. Frustrated with this and many other issues, people from other regions no longer find it worthwhile to belong to MCP. The MCP has out of its own accord, created a vicious cycle in which MCP itself often finds it hard to truly inform the national electorate about policy decisions. Certainly, and i repeat, certainly, this is not change we can believe in.

As history will attest, The MYP and the police under the instruction of the MCP political leadership were empowered to detain anyone without trial. Others were tried in traditional courts without legal representation and some were even murdered in fabricated “car accidents” In 1976 the religious denomination of Jehovah’s witnesses was declared an unlawful society. Its members were targets of massive repression and thousands were imprisoned.

Civil and political rights did not exist. Basic rights such as freedom of expression, freedom of information and the rule of law were barbarically and unashamedly violated. The censorship act and the information monopoly of the regime compromised the right of free access to information more over the reporting of false or damaging information about Malawi was considered a criminal offence punishable with life time imprisonment.
Rightly or wrongly, one name that has been associated to all these mis-hapennings has been that of hon Tembo because of his life-long desire to be the leader of this country.
If Hon is a changed man, then he has given up this life-long desire to always be in leadership. That is a change we will believe in.

The former head of state himself repeatedly detested any idea that would see hon Tembo becoming a leader, changed man or not! MCP’s idea of only reserving the presidential candidacy to hon Tembo is a serious threat the theory of change and to MCP’s own chances of reclaiming government. Over a short period in which he has been leader of MCP, he has inspired and provoked nothing but contempt. His performance over the last 5 years has made it even worse.
He presided over a brutal and egoistic section 65 position where he, himself won nothing and changed nothing, but only succeeded in denting the political image of his ably young and upcoming parliamentarians who are going to lose en masse.

When the president was fighting for a change in the tobacco prices for farmers most of them proud residents of the central region where remainings of his party are confined, this changed man blocked and ridiculed the president’s proposal as unworkable. Today farmers from Ntchisi, Kasungu ,Dowa and Lilongwe have regained their glorious past. Their lives can boast a change they can believe in. What is even more disappointing is not that he has been leader of MCP by decree for so long, but that he has been at the centre of breaking the very same ideals and values upon which MCP was founded- NATIONALISM.

When MCP was founded, it attracted young nationalists the likes of Masopera Gondwe, Stenings Msiska, Mikeka Mkandawire, Gomire Kuntumanji, Lali Lubani, Abdulla Thabi, Thengo Maloya, Hatwel Solomoni and many others now turning in their graves. These young men were inspired by the love of their country such that without any money, they often walked long distances preaching the gospel of nationalism and the coming of independence and a change they could believe in.
They did so often on empty stomachs. Their health steadily declined, they were dragged through the mud, tried and persecuted, castigated and ostracised, and dismissed as rouble-rousers and agitators, but they refused to abandon the cause because their belief in nationalism and a change they could believe in was greater than the enormity of challenges they experienced. Sadly the independence that MCP helped in bringing has had its celebrations boycotted by the allegedly changed MCP Ayatollah now assured of once again being its candidate.

Times have changed. Hon John Tembo has not.
People may be less desperate than in history, but they have more focused interests, they are more professional as advocates and they have stronger tools at their disposal. There must be amidst all the confusions and happenings in the MCP party at present undisturbed remnant MCP honest people who still have within them, a vision of a change Malawians can believe in. These change agents are not purveyors of coercion and violence. They are change advocates who are willing to stand alone if it is necessary for the way of peace and are able to identify themselves as advocates of progress and meaningful development.
These are such young and intelligent people as Ishmael Chafukira- minus his love for allowances; upcoming politicians such as Nancy Tembo who has been making objective contributions in the chamber; maverick and radical politicians like Willard Gwengwe; Fatherly and honest politicians like hon Kamoto-a kindhearted politician who stood for Maltida Katopola in the face of strong opposition from his colleagues and many others. These are the future leaders of a changed MCP.

There was a time when Malawi Congress party was a mighty party. They were holding their meetings and caucuses at their party offices and in conference rooms. Now they meet in somebody’s house. There was a time when MCP had membership across the country. It was rich in resources and manpower. Now it has been reduced to a party that is hunting for running mates. We don’t know whether that is desirable change.

The Malawian community may have strongly held opinions on both the presenting issues and their underlying causes. In this new Malawi we have not been afraid to discuss those views openly and honestly in our efforts to understand the machinations of government and politics. But equal to all of this is our central belief that forty-two years ago, democracy was perceived as dissenting but now its part of an integral system and because of our past , We must not loose site of the challenges currently facing our country and that any attempt to preach the gospel of change should be based on our values and belief in a better Malawi free of plotting and conjectures and responsibility, a Malawi where leaders can address our problems with scientific approaches as opposed to empty political hectoring

At a time when there are fresh and intelligent entrants into the political scene, when Malawi can see itself as a country where dreams and ambitions can be realised, a future Malawi of sky scrapers, Olympic stadiums and green revolution, it is a sad reality that the MCP convention was bullied into endorsing a leadership that has outlived its usefulness and that cannot contribute anything of value to our country.
This is not a change we can believe in.

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