Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Apology accepted, Honourable


Some people think that apologising is embarrassingly old-fashioned. Not the concept itself, they say, but the execution.
Think about it: when you want to apologise to someone, you typically have to be courageous— a brave heart of some sort.
And while it is, of course, possible to email, tweet or text your apology – complete with sad-face emoji – none of these platforms were really available for Mzimba North East Member of Parliament (MP) Olipa Muyaba because her audience is totally different and could take issues with that.
With the complexities of contrition in mind, she had to face her constituents and say sorry.
Muyaba is one of the MPs that voted to reject one of the Electoral Reforms [Amendment] Bills that specifically was advocating change in the way we elect a president, from First-Past-The-Post to a 50%+1 system.
She apologised, a first in the history of plural politics in Malawi. She took responsibility and we believe she is right.
We all ought to be apologising a lot more.
It may just be a seven-letter word— apology— but people should not underestimate the power of an apology. Even if Muyaba doesn’t mean it. And most of us don’t really mean it. After all, sorry, the five-letter word often associated with an apology, is an incredibly elastic expression.
It can signify everything, from, “I deeply regret having wronged you,” to “I deeply regret that you’re a moron who doesn’t grasp the simple fact that I have the right also to vote the way I feel like on a particular day.”
But even when sorry is simply used as a civil stand-in for “get out of my way” rather than a genuine declaration of remorse, frequent apologising is a positive thing. It makes the world a nicer, politer place.
This is why we also believe that an apology is not an admission of liability. Most lawmakers that are facing mounting pressure from their constituents fear that they don’t have to apologise even when they should, because they’re worried about losing their seats come 2019
We reckon we could use Hon Muyaba’s apology as a campaign tool specifically aimed at politicians. As a group, they seem to find it remarkably challenging to say the S-word, even when they’ve done something disgraceful.
Which means we all have to waste our energy calling on them to just say sorry, until they finally cave in. It would make things much easier if Parliament replaced Question Time with Apology Time, and everyone went around the chamber saying sorry for all the awful things they have done recently – rejecting the Electoral Reforms [Amendment] Bills.
People at home could vote on whether they accepted the apology, and, if they haven’t, the MP would have to resign on the spot… Sorry, but we think that would actually be quite a good thing, don’t you. Apology accepted, Honourable Muyaba!

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