Going by the definition of democracy, which says it is ‘a government for the people’, it means every Malawian should have an interest in the performance of the government. More importantly, raising concerns when things are not right.
This should not only be left to opposition party leaders, civil society organisations (CSOs), or government critics. It is the duty of all Malawians to see to it that government is serving them properly. Failing which, Malawians can pay a big price by suffering. This is the current situation in Malawi.
It is sad that people have chosen to remain silent even when the government is taking them for a ride. It must be mentioned that most political leaders, especially the Heads of State have shown that they are in that position for personal enrichment, rather than serving the people.
Plato, who was one of the well known thinkers during the Middle Ages, once said, and I quote: “If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools”, end of quote.
These words have remained meaningful throughout the ages and even, more so, at the moment. Taking no interest in the affairs of government is indeed risky.
The most obvious risk is that Heads of State make their selfish desires look like national interests. A typical example in Malawi is the Shire–Zambezi Waterway and the intended Nsanje World Inland Port. If these projects were a people’s desire and interest, they would have not be still standing unfinished in overgrown weeds and neglected while vandals are taking their pick. The result is that a lot of taxpayers’ money has been wasted.
Usually, the leadership in Malawi has a habit of shunning negative feedback. This is strange because they should know better that feedback—whether positive or negative—is necessary for successful leadership. Since they do not accept feedback, people are forced to support their so-called visions, even if they know, are leading nowhere.
Since leadership hates negative feedback, they find no reason to consult people before a project is implemented. With all due respect, the leadership in the country seems not to know the difference between political popularity and achievement or success on the ground. They mostly think their political party support is a sign of success to the country. Hence, they highly brag about their success stories, most of which are imaginary. They also fail to realise that their supporters flock to them for handouts. Educated supporters expect to be given better paying jobs or lucrative government contracts. This means, generally, the support is not genuine.
If the people of Malawi had been showing interest in the affairs of the government, the current poverty situation would not have been as bad. All the systems for stealing, corruption, overspending on taxpayers’ money and overall mediocrity in government would have been seriously questioned. Even a lot of injustices in the country would have been queried and corrected.
The law must not be selective. For example, once people have been found with lots of money from unexplained sources, they must be treated as thieves and must get equal punishment. But in this country, to some people the unexplained source of money that they are found with is taken as theirs. Therefore, they go scott-free to enjoy the ill-gotten wealth. This encourages stealing.
It is very sad that in this country prices of goods and services suffer in silence. One wonders for how long this docile behaviour will go on? One can only appeal to the people of Malawi to wake up and show interest in the affairs of government to avoid being ruled by clueless leaders.