Malawi is the cover girl among African countries following her political crisis that ended in the continent’s first rerun presidential election won by an opposition leader.
But a few days after the June 23 rerun, my Kenyan friend tamed my joy when he reminisced about his country’s experience when an opposition party come to power in 2003.
While there has been significant growth in multiparty democracy across sub-Saharan Africa, elections rarely bring new governments due to incumbent’s grip on resources and patronage.
To overcome the popularity and resource curse, opposition parties devised a formula–coalitions.
When the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) assumed power in Kenya, President Mwai Kibaki elatedly announced: “Narc’s triumph is a journey to the promised land”.
Except that in two years, Kenyans had lost the steam and the alliance was on its deathbed.
The biggest enemy Kibaki set out to fight was corruption, but heavily parliamentarians, even from Narc, treated themselves to large salaries, arguing this would discourage their soliciting of bribes.
Kenyans fought back.
The foiled opportunity to eat became a nightmare in the coalition that lost its rainbow. The toothless government merely barked at those it deemed corrupt, but could not bite.
The alliance crumbled, Kibaki won another mandate, some claimed rigged and of course paid for in Kenyan blood.
Closer to Malawi, in 2011, Zambians booted out Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) for a youthful opposition Patriotic Front party led by seasoned politician Michael Sata, who died in power in 2014.
Charles Mwewa’s appraisal of Sata in his signature book, ‘The Legacy of President Michael Sata: Allergic to Corruption’, talks of a man who challenged Zambia and made anyone pay even for the seemingly least of corrupt incidents like bicycle theft.
Elsewhere, personal ambition, factional intrigues, disparate personalities and policy agendas throw spanners into what often departs as a train of hope with new governments.
However, there is also hope that the leadership in Malawi will unite around a progressive and democratic agenda that is not littered with tribalism, corruption and appeasement.
“I feel like a burden has been lifted”, commented a youthful businessperson in Blantyre when Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera defeated incumbent Peter Mutharika.
Many Malawians share the same hope that ‘itsanana’ (it’s an honour) to witness what a new Malawi may bring forth.
When Chakwera released his needlessly bloate thank-you Cabinet, Malawians realised the depth and indebtedness of their politics.
Cabinet done, everyone is all eyes on the embassies, statutory corporations and the contracts coming. After all, the political parties have hundreds of functionaries with ambitions and goals.
While Chakwera has defended his flip-flopping, challenging his distrusted ministers to give their all to pass a five-month appraisal, he should keep listening to the right voices.
Sadly, if what has been happening for the past week is anything to go by, some of the old trusted media houses won’t do any good.
It will take strength in the leadership of Chakwera and Vice-President Saulos Chilima to find and listen to dissenting views rather than bask in the praise and worship of their foot soldiers ready to defend every piece of their mediocrity with threats, verses, proverbs and fallacies of hero-worshipping.
The pair must exert their leadership upon the nation to pacify the rightly dissatisfied citizens and deliver Malawi’s weary souls unto Canaan, however long.
The Tonse Alliance should not be an excuse for undermining legitimate expectations of the people.
In my 30 years, Malawians have never been interested in what happens with government than now.
Thanks to the proliferation of social media, the widely covered election’s case and the mind-awakening campaign by the Tonse partners, their eyes are open. We lost patience a long time ago. We’ll talk in black and white because we have nothing to hide.