One thing we must all remember, dear Malawians, is that whenever politicians are crisscrossing the country, with a plastic smile placated all over their faces, coaxing us to give them our vote, most of them do not genuinely care about our welfare and some of them even have the audacity to show us the back of their head as soon as they have accomplished their goal.
If you have no clue yet, the recent ‘fallout’ between UTM and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) politburo, which culminated in the UTM president Saulos Chilima ‘abruptly’ unpacking the alleged contents of an alliance agreement that allegedly included a ‘power shifting’ arrangement in 2025, should give you a hint that, sometimes, there is more to it than what meets the eye when politicians are jostling for positions during campaign time.
Everyone felt so good back in March 2020 when the Tonse Alliance was hatched because many of us were under the illusion that the two leaders of the main parties had set aside their personal ambitions for the good of their country but alas! We were only cheating ourselves because the contents of that ‘closely guarded’ document purportedly sealing the union between State President and MCP leader Lazarus Chakwera and Chilima, who is also State Vice President, if indeed authentic, shows that both of them have that burning thirst for power, which one of them is quenching at the moment and the other cannot hold it anymore, as he has admired it from a far for far too long. Any surprise that, 58 years after independence, development in our country has not moved with a sense of urgency and at the level that our forefathers had anticipated?
I will not be drawn in the debate to do with who is right or wrong, or who is telling the truth between Chilima and that MCP delegation which claimed it has no idea about the existence of a ‘power shifting’ document for 2025, as alleged by Chilima during his address in Lilongwe a week ago. But one thing is clear; those who said politicians are only power hungry individuals who are waiting for their turn to get into government and satisfy their desires were not far from the truth.
As Chilima himself rightly observed in his address, we have, indeed, had so many false starts as a country over the last 28 years and I quote:
“At each instance, we have had the delusion that we probably had just found the missing formula for unlocking the gateway to our long-awaited prosperity. Sadly, when we believed that we had taken one step forward, we have found ourselves taking two steps backwards.”
Now, what makes it even more depressing is that the statement was coming from someone who is the second top-most person in government (political-wise) and has had the privilege of serving both the previous and current administrations. These are not the kind of statements one expects to hear for a country that has now clocked 58 years as an independent nation.
You just have to go round some of the districts— in fact, make that constituencies or wards to appreciate how backward we have regressed and how shrewd politicians can be. You will find that no meaningful development has taken place in most places and yet we have councillors and legislators around, not to mention allocations for District Development Fund and Constituency Development Fund, which has even been raised this financial year.
It bothers me, for instance, every time I travel to the village when I branch off Pa 10 (10 miles) near Chileka Airport via Mombo all the way to Dziwe Trading Centre, as the dusty road is still in a poor state —just like it was when I was a child and it is much the same if you decide to go round via Chikuli, where you would also be forced to negotiate potholes and navigate on an equally dusty road.
Our country, as rightly observed by many, is still at the mercy of the donor community when we should have concentrated our energy on rejuvenating the ailing economy through industrialisation. Financial bailouts cannot bring about meaningful development.
If our political leaders, especially those in government, continue jostling for power, then, I am afraid that the self-inflicted wound of poverty will continue hurting us. That is the sad tale of an impoverished Malawi at 58.
Stephen Dakalira is a seasoned Journalist who works as Times Group’s Online and Digital Executive Editor. He is also the Assistant Editor of The Sunday Times Newspaper, and author of Full Circle column which appears in Malawi News; all of these under the Times Group stable.
He has previously worked in key positions for some of Malawi’s key media institutions such as Malawi News Agency, Capital FM Radio and Star Radio (Now Timveni Radio).