In June 2020, a few days after the fresh presidential election, I wrote in this very column how the Tonse Alliance government’s work was already cut out for them. I remember saying for Tonse Alliance to win the hearts of Malawians and even developing partners, all they needed was to do the opposite of everything the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was doing.
There was a strong conviction then, not just from me, but most Malawians, that the Tonse Alliance leadership was aware of the ills Malawians went through during the DPP era and all they needed to do was simply reverse what the former governing party was doing and the country would be on the right path.
I have forgiven myself for being convinced that Tonse Alliance was the answer to Malawians’ problems. I was fooled and so were many Malawians. In that moment of euphoria, one can be excused for believing the lies they fed us, and they did that so convincingly that it was hard to think Tonse Alliance, just like DPP, will be another thorn in our flesh.
Every time, President Lazarus Chakwera and Vice-President Saulos Chilima spoke, they reminded us how they would stop corruption, nepotism, cronyism and all other ills that almost brought this country to its knees. They told Malawians that theirs is a listening government and they are here to serve Malawians and not their own interests. In fact, Tonse Alliance philosophy as they told us, means a Malawi for all regardless of one’s political, tribal or religious affiliation.
This government no longer listens to wise counsel. They don’t care anymore. Some of the ministers in Tonse Alliance are actually telling the President not to care about what Malawians are saying because they easily forget things, they will soon get tired and issues will die a natural death. This indifference and disregard of people’s voices is what made Peter Mutharika move into his unfinished house in Mangochi.
A year on, we are back to where we were with the DPP and we still complaining about the very same things that Tonse Alliance promised it will do away with. Just like the DPP did, Tonse Alliance has filled up foreign missions with cronies and daughters and mothers-in-law—the very same thing they preached against during the campaign. They did talk a lot about how people will be put in positions on merit and not because they clapped the loudest at political party rallies. What happened to merit? Or, it only applies to a few people?
This government has decided that it will come up with some hurriedly bills that are repressive and draconian. Bills that remind people of the old Malawi Congress Party (MCP) the one Malawians defeated during the referendum. Tread carefully, forewarned is forearmed.
One more dangerous thing this Tonse Alliance government has done is to attempt to kill the voice of the civil society—by sending the vocal members of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) to foreign missions, it seems the Tonse Alliance government wants to be free to do as it pleases without being criticised.
HRDC was, until a few months ago, very critical in the revolution that catapulted the Tonse Alliance into government. HRDC showed Malawians and the world that sustained protests have the ability to turn things around. The deployment of some vocal members of HRDC to various foreign missions is a silent ploy by the Tonse Alliance to kill critical voices and chaining the watchdogs so that they can have free rein to plunder.
I am glad though that despite all this, Malawians are no longer the silent type that complain behind closed doors, neither do they murmur. They are a changed lot and will surely keep on holding the government to account.
With all that is going on, Tonse Alliance is slowly but surely going into self-destruct mode. When they finally disintegrate, they will have no one to blame but themselves.