Poverty is a threat to democracy—D. Speaker
First Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Esther Mcheka-Chilenje, has said poverty is a threat to Malawi’s democracy and must therefore become the focal point of government’s policy and that of every citizen.
Chilenje made the remarks in Mchinji on Saturday during activities to commemorate this year’s International Day of Democracy.
The United Nations set aside September 15 as the International Day of Democracy. However, Malawi postponed the commemoration to December 9.
This year’s theme was Democracy and Conflict Prevention. It focused on the critical need to strengthen democratic institutions to promote peace and stability.
Mcheka-Chilenje said at the re-advent of the multiparty democracy in 1994, Malawians had high hopes of its significantly reducing all our national challenges, the most dangerous being poverty.
“We have, however, seen little change in this area. We have seen a widening gap between the rich and the poor,” she said.
Mcheka-Chilenje stated that poor people are incapacitated and less empowered to demand their rights.
“It is a fact that if someone is poor, he or she is incapacitated. He can have an ambition to have something, but you cannot have it because you are poor. So, as leaders, we really need to encourage people to work hard and find measures for addressing poverty in the country,” explained Chilenje.
She said as Malawi forges ahead in its democracy, citizens need a more integrated approach to foster resilient society’s calls for effective and inclusive democracy.
Chairperson of the Inter Parliamentary Union, Ralph Mhone, observed that majority of Malawians are still far from comprehending the meaning and purpose of democracy.
Mhone, therefore, challenged the media and civil society organisations to join hands in educating masses on the ‘real meaning’ of democracy and the roles and responsibilities of its citizens.
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