The country reclaimed democracy 24 years ago. The democratic era subsists on citizens’ participation at all levels of public affairs, including voting.
This governance system is not without focal principles. Respect of human rights, rule of law, transparency and accountability, free and fair elections, participation and separation of powers are some of the fundamental pillars of democracy.
All these have been at play since June 14 1993.
However, what is lacking is due diligence as well as checks and balances.
Wanton noncompliance by some political stakeholders has left our democratic context stagnant and stunting.
Most elected people have failed this country despite being entrusted with the noble duty to run national affairs and improve our welfare.
These people do this with the consent of the people who duly elected them.
Call them Executhieves, Legislooters and Judisharing. Shame!
Basically, they are there in all three arms of government. They are called public officers. They are usually hypothetical and eloquent in the way we ought to change the current state of affairs. They know that they and citizens need to follow democratic principles. But do these leaders do as they say?
We embraced democracy, but some governance and developmental challenges show that our leaders do not fully understand or comply with its tenets.
They are intoxicated with misconceptions and greed.
Active politicians need to be disabused of blatant misconceptions before it becomes a cancer.
The ‘misconceiving’ politician usually abuses public resources, violates rights and freedoms, frequently flouts democratic values and always politicises everything, every day, everywhere in every way.
The first hazardous misconception is about human rights and freedoms. The misinformed Malawian politician expects handclaps even when infringing birthrights of the hand-clapper.
This is disrespectful, the reason most politicians demand too much respect instead of earning it freely. The country will not develop unless our political leaders start demanding transformative ideas, not unwarranted respect.
The second mistaken belief is the misconception of democracy itself. During the campaign period, the unchecked Malawian politician thoughtless promises will remain unfulfilled once elected.
When they get into office, they think all public services and servants are for free.
They think their job is to offer their relatives, cronies and party fanatics access to public goods and services. No one has the licence to loot in the name of cronyism.
Finally, the unwanted Malawian politician misconceives grassroots politics, disregarding culture and traditions.
Those in power think that chiefs and other thought leaders are supposed to be ruling party puppets. They wrongly think that only chiefs and political parties have the right to comment on governance issues. At worst, those in the opposition are constantly in a combat mood with the ‘majority’ party while the opposition parties and they are perpetually victimised.
These misperceptions are active in the country’s political culture.
They are precariously derailing development and democracy.
Worrisomely, many politicians do not seem to have the will to change. They continue to frustrate the voters.
Of course, the challenge to change our politicians is enormous.
Some commentators prescribe massive civic education, call for political will and demand a change of mindset to eradicate these system errors.
We need tougher approaches and this is the time to critically reflect on our laws, governance traditions and total adherence to tenets of democracy. We can become a prosperous democratic nation if everyone, from the presidency to children, learned to serve without corrupt intentions.
This shift will happen if we shed misconceptions of democracy among politicians and the rest of the citizenry. n