It is a fact that by voting for democracy in the Referendum of 1993, Malawians wanted to reclaim their various freedoms. More importantly, they wanted to have power to make decisions about their way of life. Unfortunately, due to political greed, some of the powers have been severely eroded and compromised. For example, during general elections the majority of Malawians do not choose people of their choice, instead they choose those candidates who bribe the voters most with cash and or in kind as they pretend that they care about the welfare of the people.
As it were, after leaders have been voted into power, they start showing their true colours of not minding about anybody else. Amazingly they even deliberately forget that the people they are supposed to lead, have powers in their own right. Experience has shown that, in most cases whatever people want or demand for their areas is ignored the leaders. If people persist, they are called trouble makers and the ruling party goes as far saying that trouble makers are sent by opposition parties. One wonders if at all they know that with such statements they are underrating the people’s thinking capacity!
Meanwhile, political leaders at all levels need to be reminded that if Malawians seriously want to show their power, there is no one who can stop them. For example, recently some Malawians in Mulanje chased away the Minister of Agriculture George Chaponda MP and his entourage of government officials and those from Blantyre Water Board (BWB). These officials were said to have gone to Likhubula in Mulanje to check on the proposed water intake point for BWB.
However, a group calling itself Citizens for the Protection of Mulanje Mountain blocked the road. The group claimed that it had asked government to plant 3 500 hectares of trees before accessing the water which they wanted to be supplied to the area as well. One does not need to be a genius to know that the demands stated here make a lot of sense, even though the government ignored them. As a result, the minister faced all the consequences of embarrassment, being chased away by his ‘home boys and girls’. This is indeed a lesson to political leaders who have a bad habit of taking Malawians for granted. It is high time even other communities in Malawi borrowed a leaf from the Citizens for the Protection of Mulanje Mountain.
If more Malawians can prove that they have power, all the cheap politics of making empty promises can be stopped. Imagine, the late President Bingu wa Mutharika promised the people of Likoma and Chizumulu islands a reliable modern boat to ply between the two Islands and the mainland. Naturally, people might have expected President Peter Mutharika to fulfil this promise since he declared at the onset of his rule that he would follow his late brother’s policies and continue from where he left. Unfortunately, the boat promise has not been delivered while the people of Likoma and Chizumulu islands continue to risk their lives using sea unworthy boats.
Lastly, it goes without saying that for this country to progress there is need for communities to be more assertive and see to it that people use their power in order for government to deliver what they want. Sweet talking people into accepting empty promises just because the government has put up a foundation stone for some project, should not be allowed. Development must be tangible and not a collection of sweet sounding words from leaders. n