John Kapito and others may well have wasted their time in organising the January 17 demonstration because Malawi government will not listen to their demands.
At least that is the feeling among Malawians polled in a Nation on Sunday survey on whether government will address the grievances that prompted the demonstrations.
Out of 1 216 people who took part in the survey, 778, representing 64 percent of the sample, said government will not listen and resolve the issues that lay at the heart of the protests.
The survey was conducted in 21 districts by Nation reporters and correspondents.
In their petition, the demonstrators want government to reverse the flotation of the kwacha and sell the presidential jet. They also want President Joyce Banda to declare her assets and stop extensive local and foreign travel, among other issues.
Kapito on Saturday said he was not surprised by results of the survey, but said government should be given time because the 21-day ultimatum has not expired.
“It’s strange that so far we have heard nothing from government. All we heard was the government thanking themselves for the peaceful demonstrations, but I hope they will not fall into the trap of not listening, because listening to others’ concern is a gift everyone should have,” he said.
Political analyst Dr Mustafa Hussein said despite the pessimism among the respondents in the poll, people should not lose hope because government is mindful of the 2014 elections.
“Government is aware of the upcoming 2014 elections and it would like to appear to be seen as a listening government and, therefore, it will take heed of the calls by Cama,” said Hussein.
Last week, Malawi’s Minister of Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe insisted that government would not reverse the free market policies that many say have hurt Malawians.
The findings of the survey have implications for what is called political efficacy. This is the feeling among citizens that their political action can influence the decisions of those who exercise public power.
When citizens believe they can influence the actions of their leaders, they are likely to participate in actions designed to affect government policies.
A study conducted by Afrobarometer in 2005 found that Malawians generally believe that their elected representatives are not responsive.
In addition, a 2005 study by Dr Blessings Chinsinga found that one of the factors at the root of voter apathy in Malawi is the feeling among the electorate that politicians do not listen to them.