Democracy is touted to be the best form of civil government because of its basic tenets and provides checks and balances of the system.
It is built on the premise and principle of the “majority rule” and the protection of individuals’ rights.
Gray Kalindekafe is the national programmes manager for National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust, which works to entrench values and principles of democracy through provision of civic education and empowerment to the citizenry.
Kalindekafe believes God is the source and fountain of democracy; thus, any accomplished democrat qualifies to be a friend of the Creator.
“God was the first to practise democracy by giving mankind freedom to choose what we think is best for us,” observes Kalindekafe.
Thus, Kalindekafe advances that it is for this reason that [in a democracy], every citizen needs to probe themselves about God’s requirement for them to participate within the governing structure and its authority.
Citizens need to search their hearts on how well do they participate within the structure of government over them.
Malawi attained the rule of multiparty democracy in the early 1990s, after over 30 years of the rule of the late Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s Malawi Congress Party (MCP).
To date, the country has been under the democratic system of government for slightly over 20 years. But the question that has been hanging is: Is Malawi’s democracy maturing or faltering?
In their introductory remarks in the recently published book The Malawi 2014 Tripartite Elections: Is democracy maturing? Nandini Patel and Michael Wahman observe that the development in Malawi’s quality of democracy since the re-introduction of plural politics in 1994 has been disappointing.
“Democracy is highly correlated with economic development and given Malawi’s relatively low level of social and economic development, one might argue that Malawi is somewhat exceeding expectations when it comes to democratic governance,” they say.
Of course, Patel and Wahman note that the local democracy has continued to score a mark both on continental and global scene.
The book, which has been published by Nice and Institute for Policy Interaction (IP) with financial support from the European Union (EU), decries that ever since 1994, the level of democracy has been declining.
This notwithstanding, EU Ambassador to Malawi Marchel Gerrmann said at the launch of the book in January 2016 that Malawi’s flag flies high in as far as democracy peace is concerned and it is a shining example in Africa and beyond.
Germann said EU subscribes to the notion that continued peace and democracy are a prerequisite to taking any country on a long-term path of social economic development.
“My assessment is that Malawians have, through the 2014 tripartite elections, demonstrated their full understanding of the fundamental principles and tenets of democracy,” he said.
Former vice-president Justin Malewezi, also speaking at the same function, said Malawians had demonstrated that they are indeed God-fearing by working hard to nurture democracy.
Malewezi said this was demonstrated through the holding of peaceful successive elections since the return of multiparty democracy.
Said Malewezi: “In the year 2000, we Malawians developed the Malawi Vision 2020. The phrase ‘democratic maturing’ is explicitly mentioned in the summary wording of Vision 2020.
“It was envisaged that by the year 2020, Malawi, as a God -fearing nation, will be secure, democratically mature, environmentally sustainable, self-reliant with equal opportunities for and active participation by all, having social services, vibrant cultural and religious values and a technologically driven middle-income economy.”
Kalindekafe emphasises that as the countdown to 2020 continues, this is probably the most critical time for Malawians to start asking themselves whether they, as God-fearing people, are doing enough to nurture and let democracy mature.
“It is time we started asking ourselves: How am I contributing to the growth of democracy? Am I being an active or inactive citizen? What are God’s desires in terms of my involvement in a democracy that our country embraced?” he stresses.
He says Malawians need to take time to assist in combating problems that exist within a democratic government such as the current food crisis, rising cost of living, among others.
“Because God would like to see we Malawians unite as a family founded and nurtured upon principles, tenets and values of democracy, which require that every member of the society has moral obligation to help it grow,” said Kalindekafe. n