Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Of Martyrs and Undemocratic Tendencies

What the modern breed of some political leaders are doing is enough to make the bodies of over 40 Malawian martyrs, who died in 1959, turn over in their graves. Not to mention of John Chilembwe and several others who lost their lives in 1915 for the love of Nyasaland, the modern day Republic of Malawi.

 So many decades after their demise and the attainment of democracy, the electorates are poor and still struggling at the bottom of the economic pyramid while their elected representatives are enjoying at the very top of the economic pyramid in mansions. The gap between the rich and the poor is widened by several factors including greed that has become a plague among the people whom Malawians entrust with the mantle of political leadership.

How can a democratic republic like Malawi with a full August House of 193 democratically elected patriots fail to address various social and economic problems that affect women and the youth? If poverty and inequality are two incurable viral diseases in Malawi, why is it that women and the youth are topping the list of the most severely infected patients?  

3rd March is among the most noteworthy public holidays in Malawi and to a certain extent, this day has its significance rooted deeply in the history of Southern Africa. Every third day of the month of March, Malawians commemorate the lives of people who sacrificed their lives for the betterment of the whole nation.

We owe a lot to all the fallen heroes who shed their blood for Malawi to be where it is today. Those who shed their blood for the love of this paved way to democracy and now we chose the people whom we entrust with our ballot to represent and lead us.

 Sadly, most elected leaders do not do what people want in their areas. However, there are some who are actually very good so much so that they sacrifice their personal egos just for the betterment of their electorates.

The above stated scenario justifies the significance of having general elections every five years. We let the good representatives/political leaders continue from where they stopped and we vote against the self-centred underperformers and replace them with promising candidates who have clear manifestos.

I therefore encourage all registered young people and women to fully understand their role as people who are entitled to vote. This year’s elections will be more beneficial to the electorate. On top of being a tripartite election whereby we will also vote for Ward Councillors whose services have been missed for so long, this year’s election will be based on issues and not mere rhetoric and propaganda as it has been the case with the last 3 democratic elections we have had.

What is needed is for the communities to mobilise themselves and develop a charter that should be presented to their aspirants. In turn, each aspiring ward or parliamentary hopeful is supposed to state in no uncertain terms the problems they will address and the strategies they will use to address the challenges. The process is not supposed to end there; the aspirants need to sign the social contracts. In this way, the electorate will be able to make follow ups if the person who signed to address certain ills in the society is not doing so. If the person fails to fulfill his or her promises for the whole of the five-year period, the people’s course of action is obvious…

In light of this, I would like to urge all the youth and women to make sure that their social and economic problems have been spelled out correctly in the citizen’s charter of their various wards or constituencies.

Suffice it to say that, a journey through different stages of Political transitions and stages has been a long and a hard one. This time around, we have reached our destination and there is no doubt about it- we just have to know what to do in order to utilise the power that is vested in our constitutional right to right to vote.   

We acquired and embraced the much needed democracy and it is up to all Malawians to make our democracy work. This year’s elections are supposed to benefit the electorate and let us make sure that the case of women and the youth is heard!

In developing the citizen’s charter/ social contract remember to check some of these factors;
Are the youth able to access sexual reproductive health services and information? Are there enough institutions of higher learning and vocational training centres where the youth can learn and acquire necessary skills for their economic well-being? Are there enough health centres in your area? If there are some, do they have enough maternity wings where women can deliver without difficulties due to lack of trained mid wives and equipment? What kind of distance do women in your area cover in order to get to the nearest water source?

Wishing you all the best as you do research in order to develop and formulate your citizen’s charter! 

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