On June 14 1993, Malawians elected the lamp of democracy in protest to dictatorship.
Since its Greek origin, democracy has been pivotal for governing humans and delivering development.
However, the 2017 Lexical Index of Electoral Democracy shows that only 68 percent of countries on earth are governed by genuinely contested elections.
Last year, the UK-based Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) measured the state of democracy and governance in 167 countries, including Malawi which was classified as a “hybrid regime”.
This means the country is one of democracies blighted by consequential irregularities, including elections that are neither free nor fair.
Credible, free and fair elections form a pillar of democracy and citizens’ choices. It mirrors the aspiration of the people.
The lapses in the country’s democracy do not only create a governance crisis but also socio-economic challenges.
In the May 21 Tripartite Elections, the nation has a chance to elect a President, members of Parliament and councillors.
To make democracy work, the electorate need to be reminded what democracy is really about and how undemocratic candidates conduct themselves.
Clearly, the country does not need a government that will apply undue force to hush political opponents and muzzle the free press. Rather, we need a truly free and fair environment for voters to make informed decisions without being hoodwinked or pressurised.
In vibrant democracies, media houses play a critical role in furthering our democracy, transparency and accountability from selfish politicians who usually gag the press to keep the masses in the dark.
A democratic State will not squeeze opposition voices for the benefit of the governing party, but create political space for all political grouping to operate freely and lawfully.
Malawi needs a functioning democracy where the Judiciary is not merely an operative of the Executive, but a fearless watchdog of rule of law and citizens’ rights to ensure no one must cripple other arms of government for the selfish reasons.
Beyond May 21, Malawians deserve democratic leadership that will not tolerate widespread corruption that has paralysed government agencies and private sector. In the new Malawi, the President and Cabinet ministers must be ashamed of corrupt practices and lead by example to end the vice.
As citizens and voters, we must fight through the ballot knowing that corruption is an undemocratic conduct, it is an absolute evil perpetuated by those who do not respect and care about the socioeconomic interests of the people.
Corruption undermines service provision, economic growth and human rights. As a democratic State that markets itself as a God-fearing nation, registered voters must elect leaders who will not put themselves above the law at all cost-and lawlessness must be punishable.
The rule of law induces discipline in public servants, compelling them to serve the interests of all. In this way, it triggers equality and quality service delivery.
Do we have this in Malawi?
If not, May 21offers an opportunity to restore democracy in full, for crumbs falling from the high table where selfish rulers share the loot are not good enough.
On the other hand, Malawians must participate fully to improve the situation because we all need a functioning government of the people, for the people and by the people.
The country needs politicians who accept democracy in its totality, not in slices.
The hybrid regime has allowed criminals with political influence and connections to oppress innocent citizens in the name of the democracy we wanted when we voted the lamp in June 1993 Referendum.
It is time to be united and objective in the fight for a good cause against all undesired agendas of the hybrid regime.
For the love of our lives, children and their children, let us hear out every politician and make informed decisions.
Come May 21, go and vote wisely to make democracy work. n