Well, sometimes, people who complain the most are those who do nothing; that is if complaining is doing nothing.
It could be that complaining provides an easy way out.
I am saying so because of what the former Inspector General of the Malawi Police Service— a respectable man at that— write recently on his Facebook page.
Here is what the motivational former police chief said, something I, somewhat, agree with.
“During the tenth anniversary of Malawi’s attainment of democracy in 2004, at Capital Hotel in Lilongwe, after Professor Brown Chimphamba had eloquently presented his paper to the conference, one gentleman, in his contribution to the panel discussion that followed, asked a question:” Professor Chimphamba, you are the type of person this country needs as a leader. Why don’t you volunteer for the task?”
In his usual humble way, he took it as a compliment.
However, Honourable Dindi Gowa Nyasulu, of blessed memory, volunteered to answer the question on behalf of the professor. He said: “Look here, this country has many people like him, men of high leadership [skills] and integrity. They will, however, never get into politics because of the nature of politics in this country. They have personal and professional integrity to protect, which they cannot risk at the altar of politics. As a result, the situation we have is that those who have nothing of value to lose make ourselves available. People elect the available into political office. The available are the risk takers.”
The good former IG, using the above words, goes on to give us a lecture. And these are his words: “We talk a lot on social media and complain a lot about the quality of political leadership in this country on both sides of the divide. We come up with a lot of brilliant ideas on what must be done to change the trajectory of this country. We are afraid of taking risks and making ourselves available for political leadership. Malawians only have a pool made up of risk-takers from which to choose, and from those who have made themselves available.
“I heard a story of professors Edge Kanyongolo and Garton Kamchedzera of the Law School at Chancellor College [now University of Malawi]. They were conducting a Focus Group discussion in Ndirande with the youth, seeking to understand the reasons [that propel them to] participate in political violence. In the course of the discussion, one of them exclaimed, “ I recognize you (pointing at Professor Kanyongolo), you are frequently interviewed on television. The things you say and are saying here are good; they can push forward democracy. But people like you cannot win an election. You tell the truth. You don’t promote political violence. It is the clever guys that lie without winking that win election”. What is Malawi’s problem? Poor choice of leaders. Do we want to see things change and progress? Let us choose right. Civil society in this country has a lot of work to do in educating civil society about their rights, with [a] balance [d] emphasis on responsibility. Unfortunately, I can bet my throat, civil society in this country is currently highly politicised and partisan. It lacks objectivity, neutrality and professionalism. As long as civil society remains politically illiterate, we will not get the leaders this country needs.”
Well, the former IG, a noble man himself who should have a go at politics to change our fortunes for the better, has put things in context.
Malawi has brilliant minds. True. But, perhaps, what discourages them from joining politics is the Chichewa translation of the word ‘politics’. In Chichewa, politics means ‘ndale’, as in tripping someone.
This, in effect, stops people who regard themselves as highly ethical from joining the bandwagon of those who are into politics.
To make matters, the cause of well-meaning politicians is frustrated by some public servants who have vested interests in political parties, such that they frustrate the government’s development efforts. These are no better than enemies of the State.
At the end, when otherwise noble people survey the political scene, they find that politics is not their bread and butter. They, therefore, speak of sound policies from the sidelines of power.
The worst part is that, even when they offer sound advice, it is often disregarded by those in power, the way they dealt with the 10-point plan by one of Malawi’s prolific economists, the late Mathews Chikaonda. May his soul rest in eternal peace.