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MCP, UTM have beautiful ideas

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With George Kasakula:

The May 21 elections came and off they went but we are now experiencing post-poll reverberations and Malawians have their eyes on the case in Lilongwe, where the Constitutional Court, comprising five judges, is sitting.

This is upon us after both the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM filed cases in court, asking it to nullify results of the presidential election claiming massive fraud.

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This week, we saw the court making a number of moves and this will rage for the foreseeable future.

But this is not all. The post-election reverberations reached fever pitch on Thursday, as countrywide Human Rights Defenders Coalition-organised protests taking centre stage, with Lilongwe being the epicentre.

This time, the demonstrations were meant to force the resignation of Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Chairperson Jane Ansah.

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But, in the midst of this hullabaloo, life must go on and Malawi must survive.

We, as compatriots, still have a country to build and save for the sake of our future and that of our children

What I am about to say is, to say the least, painful to the 62 percent of the over five million Malawians who went to vote on May 21.

Unless, or until, the courts pronounce the contrary and unless, or until, a new election is held, if at all, then the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and President Peter Mutharika have the mandate to govern this nation, at least for now.

While they are at it, they have a manifesto and, in it, Mutharika promises Malawians that he will transform this nation into Singapore or Europe.

The question I pose is this: As DPP is implementing its manifesto, assuming they are, is there anything from the losers’ manifestos that the winners can use for the sake of national progress?

The unfortunate thing happened among us during the May 21 election and it is that results of the elections clearly showed that Malawians did not vote according to manifestos but regions as well as tribes, a matter compounded by accusations of massive irregularities and rigging.

Yet running through all parties’ manifestos, there was one good thing or the other that, if implemented, can help this nation move forward and improve things to realise the President’s dream of having a Singapore called Malawi in Africa.

MCP, for example, was insistent that, if voted into office, it would reduce the powers of the President in appointing certain key people to key institutions such as Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to free them from owing the Executive, which makes them less effective.

This could be the panacea of dealing with corruption once and for all, something we have always needed to realise our dream of building this nation into a fair and just one for every Malawian.

As much as possible, this would ensure that every tambala paid as tax into the kitty is used for the intended purpose.

Among other things, MCP also promised to make K100, 000 Pay As You Earn (Paye) tax-free, up from the K35,000, and then peg the minimum wage at K50,000.

UTM, on the other hand, had this promise of creating one million jobs and putting industries in every part of the country, in line with what people do where they stay. The party also promised decent wages that would culminate in every family having three decent meals per day.

These are decent promises by all standards as they are not complicated but aim at helping people to directly and personally benefit from campaign promises made before the May 21 elections.

Who among the salaried employees would say no to MCP’s promise of K100,000 Paye tax-free band whether they voted for DPP, UTM or United Democratic Front or MCP itself, or whether they come from Thyolo or Chitipa or the Central Region, South or North?

The same goes for UTM decent wages and three meals per day promise. Who would not want to have that and why would DPP not see anything right in it?

What about the promise to free ACB, which DPP also pledged in 2014 but did not implement during the last five years and simply ignored in their present manifesto?

Would it not be good for the nation to have an ACB that is free to bite and all the money wasted through Cashgate or the K577 billion or K236 billion losses all recouped into the national kitty and used for nation-building?

The DPP cannot simply ignore the other parties’ manifestos if its interest is really to develop this nation so that it becomes Singapore or Europe or, specifically, Germany.

Parties spend a fortune to develop manifestos and travel the breadth and width of this country to use them as selling points to woo voters to give them permission to govern this country.

As soon as power is given to them, as it has happened with Mutharika and his DPP, Malawians do not get to hear of the manifestos again as they govern according to their whims and desires.

This is unfortunate and we, Malawians, must not accept it at all cost. Governments must account for falsehoods christened as manifestos.

Lawyer Ambokile Salimu tried to get an order from the High Court to make DPP account for its electoral promises in 2014 but the idea fizzled out and never came to anything.

He did not have any support except on Facebook.

There is a hackneyed saying that a promise is a credit but it still has a sense to it.

Parties must make good of their promises at all times; otherwise, Malawians must not be taken for granted and duped through manifestos that become dummies when parties refuse to account for them.

In the final analysis, Malawians want a better life and it does not matter where good ideas to improve their lot come from.

It is the solemn duty of a party in power to make sure that all energies from all Malawians, from everywhere, are harnessed to achieve real development.

This is contrary to the lip service we are used to.

Mutharika promised Europe, Germany and Singapore but he cannot achieve this through the rancour and animosity we are seeing these days, but only with a desire for unity and reconciliation.

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