Believe it or not, it is now very clear that excitement for the 2019 elections is heating up. In fact, the excitement is comparable to that of the Referendum vote of 1993, when Malawians voted for change. At the moment, political parties are busy re-organising themselves while people are re-aligning themselves with parties of their choices. Party conventions, too, are on the cards to elect leaders who will lead parties to the elections. Even topics of discussions in public places are based on the coming elections and some people go as far as predicting results.
The unprecedented excitement about elections is probably due to the suffering Malawians are going through due to government tolerating corruption and stealing taxpayers’ money. These practices have brought the country to its knees. This is enough reason for some people to think of change—both at national level as well as at constituency level. In order to make the right choices of people who are ready and willing to serve Malawians, there is need for serious civic education. It does not need one to be a genius to know that some of the previous political choices have contributed to the suffering in this country.
It goes without saying that in preparation for the 2019 elections, there is need for comprehensive civic education to make the right choices. It is appreciated that NGOs such as Nice and others provide a lot of civic education, but, unfortunately, most of it seem to concentrate on the actual voting procedure rather than on how to choose right candidates who can improve things in this country. It is unfortunate that in this country there is a retrogressive culture that the electorate prefer to vote for those candidates who have bribed them the most with cash or in kind. This is how the intelligent people with no money are left out.
Civic education should also teach voters on how to identify candidates who understand the situation in their areas and are able to appreciate what problems people are facing and what are their priorities are. Experience has shown that some candidates who have lived outside the country for decades have no empathy for the local people. Such people should be left out if the country is to progress. Meanwhile, civic education cannot be complete without talking about the Ministry of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development. This ministry has to seriously get involved in educating people during the elections and that education must be a continuous process.
So far, its involvement, as far as civic education is concerned, is very obscure. If the ministry was worth its sort, the country would by now have moved away from politics of ethnicity.
This is worse at voting time when people vote for home boys even if he/she shows no leadership qualities. Such people think that leadership is about trial and error. Such leaders have no focus and are clueless. Honestly, having such leaders is what has contributed to Malawi being one of the poorest countries in the world. These leaders are best described as misleaders.
A political scholar once said that due to political ethnicity, elections can be said to be ethnic censors, which simply show which tribes are in the majority, therefore, should be producing Heads of State every time there is an election.
When influenced by ethnicity, some party supporters have the arrogance to challenge smaller tribes that they have no chance of producing a State President. These are primitive thoughts which the Ministry should do away with.
Honestly speaking, productive civic education is a must in this country. Unless every Malawian is equipped with knowledge to choose good leaders, the country will continue to suffer with mediocrity.