The campaign period is an exciting period for voters and political parties alike. For the voters, it is a time to dress themselves in brand new party cloths.
For the political parties it is a time to seduce potential voters with sweet words of promises that do not materialize—at least until 6 months to the next election as the Democratic Progressive Party administration has been seen to be doing lately.
The campaign is a time when politicians use their wiles to attract voters, they use money , at times measly K1000, to convince voters that more would come once they are elected into office.
The run up to the elections in Malawi is a time that the private sector shows its financial might, pumping in millions to both sides of the aisle as collateral to be ‘remembered’ once a particular party gets into government.
These are some of the issues that the Political Parties Act has attempted to address. The litmus test will be the May, 2019 election.
The law bans handouts except those used to facilitate political party meetings such as provision of transport refunds, meals and entertainment. Reading the provisions, one is inclined to think the law has not addressed the effect of handouts on a political campaign after all.
Another thing that the law has not addressed is remarks from politicians with the potential to incite violence or demean the integrity of fellow politicians.
UTM’s George Saonda’s remarks at a rally in Nsanje last weekend come to mind. Much as the English translation might not sound as inflammatory, the matter in which it was delivered was definitely enough to make those listening wary.
In his own words, Saonda said: A Sheikh ena ake akuti apanga ubwenzi ndi abusa. Umenewu siubale, anthu amenewa adyana.
Saonda, in his convoluted wisdom was implying that Christians and Moslems cannot work together in politics. Clearly, he was not living in Malawi when a Moslem ruled with a Cabinet whose majority was Christians.
UTM president Saulos Chilima should be commended for not tolerating such divisive talk at a political rally.
There are Saondas in every political party, some even use these foul mouthed politicians on purpose.
But time for such kind of talks is long gone. A 2019 electorate wants to hear tangible issues that will be implemented once the politician gets into power.
A politician who uses the podium for personal attacks has no business in 2019 elections. The electorate has waited so long for maturity in politics, some semblance of dignity is the least they can ask for.
The Saondas of Malawian politics are a dying breed. Even the Saonda of DPP, Grizelder Jeffrey has become mute and good riddance too.
Can the Saondas speak sense and convince the voters on what they have to offer and stop being the parties’ village idiots?
Even the master of foul politics, Bakili Muluzi has since repented and it was a breath of fresh of air to hear him offer his regrets.
UTM would do well to remove Saonda from speaking at rallies for a while if the apology and condemnation from Chilima is to be trusted. n