Elections are an opportunity for members of any society to choose their leaders with the belief that the elected individuals will represent and champion the desires of the masses.
In simple terms, societies use elections to vote individuals into leadership positions. Interestingly, however, a simple look at our recent past presidential and parliamentary elections reveals a rather fascinating phenomenon; we vote individuals and/ or political parties out of leadership positions.
For starters, it is common knowledge that in 1994 we voted to get the one-party rule and/ or the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) out of government. Again, it would be safe to say that in 2014 we voted the People’s Party (PP) out of government because of the Cashgate scandal that came to light during its rule. As recently as June last year, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was voted out of government for the perceived heightened
corruption, nepotism, et cetera.
Arguably, the only time that we, as Malawians, voted someone into power was in 2009 when Professor Bingu Wa Mutharika and the DPP got a landslide victory in the presidential and parliamentary elections.
At this point, one would obviously have two mind-boggling questions. First, why are we seemingly obsessed with voting individuals out of power? Second, has this behaviour helped us as a society?
As already mentioned in the foregoing discussion, elections ought to elect people into leadership positions.
However, our voting behaviour, and the corresponding election results, have shown that in most cases we do vote people and/ or political parties out of government. In rare cases has our motive been to vote the next person into government.
A number of reasons
could be attributed to this phenomenon. To begin with, the people that we elect into leadership positions forget, deliberately we would say, that they are expected to serve and satisfy the needs of the masses. That, coupled with their weird and outlandish campaign promises, always leaves the citizenry with a lot of unmet expectations.
So, what happens in the next election? Simple, we vote our leaders out of leadership positions.
At this point, therefore, one would
safely conclude that we are not really obsessed with voting people out of power, but that we are rather forced to. The actions (or lack of) of our ruling politicians leave a lot to be desired in most cases, and hence force the citizenry to try someone new in the next elections.
However, it is debatable that once someone is voted out of power, we are never really left with credible and better alternatives.
For instance, was Dr Bakili Muluzi and the United Democratic Front (UDF) a better alternative when Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda and the MCP were voted out of power? Again, fresh from voting Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika and the DPP out of government, the public opinion seems not to be conclusive on whether Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima, together with their Tonse Alliance partners represent the change that people demonstrated for.
Can one, therefore, conclude that we have always had weak and unprepared opposition parties?
After voting someone out of power, the sad reality is that we are only forced to give the next available person the benefit of the doubt. Of course, for us as citizens this is an undesirable state of not having better and solid options.
To make matters worse, the ones that replace the people that we vote out of power always tend to forget that they ought to champion the needs of the citizenry, just like their predecessors. “After all, a king can only do what previous kings have done…” so goes Ecclesiastes 2 verse 12.
Clearly, we have been caught between a rock and a hard place for a long time; dishonest ruling parties, and unprepared options in opposition.
From the foregoing discussion, therefore, we can safely conclude that elections here in Malawi have only achieved changing the people in power, and not necessarily bringing positive changes for the society