Elections are a time when voters check what the aspiring candidates have done for them to warrant a mandate to get into power.
Indeed, across the power divide—from the State presidency to ward councillors—people have to scrutinise them all. After realising how important this exercise is, each and every candidate tries to prove how effective he/she has been to the people of Malawi and the country at large, especially on reducing poverty.
The bottom line for all the political campaigns is for candidates to tell people about how they are going to get rid of poverty. According to recent records, Malawi is the fourth poorest country in the world. To improve from such a position is indeed a mammoth task.
However, speeches by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidates seem to indicate that their government has improved the poverty status. Since it has recently been showing that Malawi is the third poorest, honestly speaking, such an improvement is meaningless, and only good for academic purposes. Malawians can hardly feel the change.
During his recent campaign rally at Mitundu in Lilongwe, President Peter Mutharika was quoted as saying he is tired of poverty. With all due respect, such a statement, coming from him, is difficult to believe. If, indeed, he hates poverty why has he not done something about it? After being in power for five years, he should have ensured that enough resources were channelled to reducing poverty.
Unfortunately, under his watch there has been widespread abuse of public office, stealing of public resources and corruption, especially by those in positions of power.
Just imagine the abuse of public resources is even taking place during the official campaign period ahead of the May 21 tripartite elections. The media is awash with stories of DPP using parastatal vehicles for transporting their supporters around. This is an open challenge to tax payers. It is assumed that they cannot dare question DPP or the parastatal concerned. On their part, Malawians can show displeasure by using their ballot.
There are all indicators that the President and his government have totally failed to stop malpractices, instead they seem legalised. Watchdog players such as civil society organisations (CSOs), who are fighting the ills of government are taken as doing the wrong things. What is seen from this is that poverty has worsened. Therefore, the President’s statement, that he hates poverty, does not make sense and is a mockery to poor Malawians.
At the moment, the ball is in the voters’ court. It is time to pay back by voting wisely. No amount of bribery should convince them to vote back failures. Doing so will definitely perpetuate poverty. Some political commentator once said: “A lost nation is one which hungry and jobless people blindly support those responsible for their agony and misery.”
What is said in this quotation is a reminder to all Malawians that without doubt everyone knows who has brought such misery to them. Therefore, voting for such people is, indeed, a licence to more misery. In fact, by doing so they are making Malawi to be a lost nation. By extension, those voters who vote for those people who have brought miserable life are also accomplices.
If Malawians will leave out failures in voting, it will be a future lesson to all so that leaders should always perform efficiently and stop relying on bribes. Most of all, leaders must realise that no one has the right to reduce Malawi to a lost nation status.
It must also be emphasised that any failed leader should learn to step aside, instead of letting Malawians suffer because of his or her failures. If people of Malawi are serious about getting rid of hardship, they must vote for people whose performance is acceptable. Never again should they suffer under a failed government.