I am at pains. Great, great pains.
In fact, the weight of my pains triples and quadruples whenever I discuss national issues with youthful great minds such as Martin Mazinga, Henry Chingaipe, Lonjezo Sithole, Khumbo Soko and Michael Jana.
We keep asking one another one, pertinent question: what is fundamentally wrong with the Malawi our forefathers bequeathed to us? Just look around. There is a sense of déjà vu in everything we are condemning Joyce Banda’s leadership today.
From globetrotting amidst a crisis through recycling Cabinet policies to executive arrogance, there is hardly a single sin from JB that her three predecessors didn’t commit.
Our politics works like a Shakespearean stage play, carefully scripted by an intelligent playwright and all actors—our different governments play faithfully to the lines without a word and policy and implementation missed.
That is why when pupils—used or not used—marched to the street because their teachers were demanding better working conditions, I don’t find JB the culprit. That is why when John Kapito peacefully marches on our potholed roads to defend a consumer facing a tenacious rise in commodity prices, I don’t find JB a culprit.
That is why when Bingu wa Mutharika played arrogance to IMF’s demand to devalue the kwacha, I don’t find the dead tyrant a culprit. That is why when Joyce Banda went on a spree of devaluing and floating the kwacha to, at least, ‘set the economy on track’ again, I don’t find her a culprit.
What I find an insidious culprit is a political system, or call it a political culture, that has bred the Muluzis, the Mutharikas and JBs of this country. Since independence—forget democracy—our political culture has bred predatory governments led by politicians who are motivated by primitive accumulation and sustaining their grip on power through creating a patrimonial cycle.
At first, in the case of Kamuzu Banda this system was led by a learned few and consolidated by a thousand dunderheads. What’s with the Dausis? Today, there has been a change. The system is run by quite educated guys, diaspora returnees with higher university educations.
A better Malawi, I opine, is an illusion if this political system is left scot-free. No matter how much we argue and demand change within the framework of this political system, nothing will change.
We will only make John Tembo—the man who fires duly elected figures in the party because they hold different views—to manoeuvre the Central Region vote and claim the presidency.
We will only make Peter Mutharika, a total stranger to the world of political leadership, to rise to power without an agenda apart from being a late president’s young brother. We will only make an under-aged Atupele Muluzi, who allowed party loyalists at the UDF convention to change the law so that it fits his situation, to rise to the mantle even when their brains don’t have a clue of running government.
We will, most importantly, allow JB to recollect her debris, gain mileage and build a government again. If Malawi continues to get leaders from such a system, the results won’t be different from those of 1994, 1999, 2011 and what is happening.
To mean, if this generation is keen to bequeath a better Malawi than the one our father and mothers left us, it time we put a full stop to the political system, the DNA, which is producing leaders like Mutharika, JB, Kamuzu and Muluzi.
What we need is a new political order, one with new set of rules, a complete turnaround, 180 degrees, from the past. We need to end history and begin a new one. There are two ways that can be achieved. One, we need to get a radical president, and if we can’t him/her, two, we should Egyptise the country.
Radical leader? Yes. This is the one leader who shouldn’t be driven by winning a second term in office. His or her focus should be on a complete overhaul in the way politics is organised in the country.
I know how difficult it is to get such a leader. That is why if we fail, we need to learn from the Egyptians. We need to set the country on a radical revolution that should wipe away the old and give birth to the new. Of course, like it is in Egypt, the process is chaotic, and sometimes, costly. But Malawi, just as what happened in the history of any developed country, needs this phase now and never.
I am tired of these pains. Let’s start reflecting on what the future of Malawi will be if we leave the choices of today in the cream of the current leadership.