We need new citizens


By Mankhokwe namusanya:

There was a movement on Facebook. But, that does not sound accurate. There wanted to be a movement on Facebook. If, in this part of the world, one can start an effective movement on a space accessed by a negligible fraction of the population.

Its drivers, young people disenfranchised by the lies and illusions of democracy, wanted it to be a movement. So, in angry Facebook posts, they rallied people not to vote.


They said voting changes nothing. The argument that the vote is the weapon is a lie. Another of those delusions poor people are given to help them cope with the daily realities of their deprivation and sufferation.

That movement, however, did not gain any traction. Like other radical ideas before it, it suffered when the electoral fever reached pitch high.

In more than one instance, I saw some of the proponents of the no-vote idea post on Facebook that they had registered to vote. If I am not mistaken, a chairperson of some sort of that movement was on the same Facebook in recent days urging young people to vote. The arguments she used were the same she was frowning upon: your vote is your weapon, your vote shapes the future, your vote is everything and all those things we must accept are lies. Like the politicians she was afraid of, she changed tune when some organisation released money to urge young people to vote.


There is a palpable sense of frustration, and anger, at our politicians.

During the time of campaigning, like right now, they promise everything. They promise bullet trains. Promise universal subsidy. Promise state of- the-art universities. Promise even to stop natural occurrences like cyclones.

Yet, if they ever happen to win the popularity contests we call elections here, they renegade on their promises. They unleash their looting.

Our history is replete, or actually made, with thugs who appeared as politicians. However, in the years that they basked in politics, the best they did was to steal from the country and give to themselves and their families.

They became that proverbial rat given the mandate to look after groundnuts.

To the country, they gave a little. Maybe a road here, a primary school there, some sense of security, some business to a select young people. And, for that, they have been forcing us through the years to sing them praise. Or, give them another mandate.

It is such a sad scenario that to ask the average Malawian what the problem is with this country, they will say it is the politicians. And, you really need some craftiness to argue against that.

But, Malawians, in themselves are not actually an honest people.

Before the Presidential debates tonight, there were others who stood on the same platform at BICC on Tuesday. The three men – our politics is not for women except when it is dancing at the rallies and clearing the way for the President to speak – were not treated as actual contenders for the Presidency.

Whereas the debate before them was vigorously debated on social media, this one was dismissed. The laughter that punctuates comedic expressions when they appear on television was nothing when compared to the laughter that summarised that debate.

As there appeared eager self-anointed analysts for the first round of the debates trying to impress us that the people who had been debating were providing alternatives to the current experiences, the same analysts frowned upon this debate almost equating the debaters to fraudulent Shamans.

And they were asked a question that, if deprived of all the dignity it carried, would be: why are you wasting your money as well as energy, and our time?

The reason they have been treated with disdain is mostly because they are not affiliated to the routine politicians who can all share the collective blame of leading in the plunder of the country.

Here, in this country, honest men are mostly frowned upon.

Try it on the roads. Be in the wrong for a small road traffic offence, demand that you will pay the actual fine to the responsible office, and before you even get told the procedure—which is deliberately complicated—of paying off that fine, you will hear the same officers and other citizens mocking you. Because, traditionally, the actual fine for traffic offences is a fraction of what is written in the books and is paid to individuals. Not the State.

Yet, the same people who are beneficiaries of ‘small’ corruption will be the first ones to wail louder when ‘big’ corruption is exposed.

The other time somebody allegorized this country to a boat. He was borrowing from Lucius Banda’s song Tigwilane manja. The sad part, however, about this boat is that each one is busy stealing parts of it to construct a small one for them and their family. The idea of the collective—that was most likely imposed on us—is no longer ideal. We would rather build our own personal mansions in the middle of grass thatched huts that reek of deprivation and neglect.

Our politicians, hardly caring about the people they lead (otherwise wrongly referred to ‘as the people that put them in power’), are irresponsibly dishonest. However, no one should be convinced that the dishonesty and callousness is just a trait that one gets when they join politics. It is something that is nurtured through the years when one is outside politics.

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