A renowned political scientist has warned that Malawi may not develop if the government continues to dismiss ideas raised by its critics.
The political scientist, Henry Chingaipe, was commenting on the way the government has been reacting to public statements made by leader of opposition, Lazarus Chakwera, on issues of national importance.
Chingaipe said, much as the reactions are vital in a democracy, the government and the ruling party are losing the plot by attacking Chakwera’s personality, instead of focusing on issues.
Chakwera recently issued a statement on the maize issue. Among other things, Chakwera asked the government to act on those involved in the deal.
In most cases, his statements have been attracting strong reactions from government officials, who have gone to the extent of describing Chakwera as a pastor who is not supposed to be taking part in active politics.
Recently, government spokesperson, Nicholas Dausi, told state-owned Malawi Broadcasting Corporation that Chakwera’s statement was aimed at perpetuating violence in the country.
“He is saying that we should arrest corrupt people [and that] if [we do] not, he will go to the street where he will… destroy property and that they will boycott Parliament meetings. I thought he is a pastor and he should lead by example. If anything goes wrong, I am sure he will be ready to take responsibility,” Dausi said.
While acknowledging that the government has a right to react to such statements, political scientist Chingaipe said the government should stop dismissing ideas emanating from its critics.
He said, in most cases, the government’s reaction to Chakwera’s statements attacks his personality instead of the issues he raises.
“What surprises me is the kind of reaction and messages from the government, the party and people who feel affiliated to some government officials. In their reaction, they attack the personality and the characters of the opposition leader and not the issues he raises. That shows that these people are still practising politics of personality and not issues,” Chingaipe said.
Asked on what politics of personality can do to a country, Chingaipe said, “good ideas that are for the benefit of us all are discarded because they are raised by people who government does not want to listen to. The country has for long being run down because we consider who is saying what,” Chingaipe said.
Chingaipe said the kind of politics the government and the main opposition party are practising is an indication that they misunderstand the concept of democracy.
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