Dear Tonse Alliance Leaders, Now the Die is Cast
By Precious Nihorowa
Dear our esteemed leaders, congratulations for making it into government. Most of us who want the best for our country have been eagerly waiting for this day. In a special way, congratulations should be extended to our honourable men on top of the seat, president Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera and his vice, Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima. You fought a good fight since last year when you combined efforts to file a complaint to the constitutional court to have last year’s elections nullified. Since then, your spirit of teamwork, together with your legal team and witnesses, has been adorable. What was more adorable again was how each one of the members of the nine constitutive parties of the Tonse alliance sacrificed their wrestle for the presidency to be part of the alliance under one leader, Dr Chakwera. The campaigning too was another marvel. The strategies you used were second to none. The hardworking spirit of all members, and notably Dr Chilima and Dr Chakwera, was worth emulating.
Now that the battle for the presidency is over and you have emerged as the winners, you have an uphill task ahead of you. Why? Because you are adopting a government that lost the trust of many Malawians and you came in with a message of hope to bail out Malawians. And after being convinced with your promises, they have indeed ushered you into power. But remember Malawians are watching your every step and counting on you. They have wounds from the previous governments, and they are expecting that you will heal them. It is our hope that you will not be the reason for the disappointment of Malawians. Rather be a reason for their hope as you have been all along prior to your victory.
Dear leaders, do you know that since the landmark ruling of the constitutional court on 3rd February Malawi has been on the world map and her events have been closely followed worldwide? Do you know that your victory over the incumbent Peter Mutharika has made Malawi become a pride of the moment? Am sure you do. But do you know what that means? It is not only the independence of the judiciary, the unity of the opposition and the professionalism of the army and electoral commission that people are admiring. They are in fact looking forward to seeing how you will be different from the previous government and how you will deliver on your promises. And so, you have the attention of the whole world. We plead with you not to bring shame to a country that has come this far. You have raised the bar too high, be ready to keep it so.
Additionally, your victory reminds me of the systems that have helped you to ascend to power easily. Do you know that without the patriotism of the army, professionalism of the electoral commission, independence of the judiciary, persistence of the common citizens in demonstrations and their readiness to vote; and vigilance of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition and the media it would be difficult for you to make it into government? In case you do not, I think it would have been difficult. Now that you have known the joy of having such systems do their work professionally, we urge you to let them do their work without any interference so that their services may benefit all Malawians. By the way, now that these institutions have tasted the sweetness of professionalism and independence, it will be difficult to manipulate them. If you try, you may end up repeating the mistakes of your predecessors and land yourself into trouble.
Mr president and your vice, you complement each other very well. I believe you will work together very well. Moreover, the mixture of expertise and experience of all members of the Tonse alliance could be a great advantage to your success if you utilize it well. However, being a group of parties with different interests and ideologies, the alliance government also has a potential for chaos if you do not guard selfish desires that may entangle your government along the way. We pray that this may not happen.
Another group of people that you should closely watch are members from other political parties who, because of your victory, and as it has always been the case in Malawian politics, will express an interest to work with you by actually joining you. We may not label all of them as bad, but they must go through the sieve of selfishness and opportunism so that their intentions for joining you should be known. And since you have been singing the song of upholding the constitution, if justice is to be served, such people who will intend to cross the floor have to face the wrath of the dormant and the once-famous section 65. Otherwise, for proper checks and balances of your government, you need an active opposition. We are not looking forward to being another Tanzania which, despite having the economy and development going in the right direction, democracy has been heavily raped by the current regime by suffocating the opposition, freedom of media and expression.
As the new president rightly noted in his speech yesterday, there are a considerable number of people, especially from the Southern and Eastern regions, who have not voted for you. And perhaps they are afraid of how your government will treat them since Malawi has some sentiments of giving people favours based solely on tribal affiliations. We count on your promise that you will be a president for all. And so, as you begin tackling corruption, we hope that there will be a proper basis for prosecuting people rather than simply witch-hunting them.
Lastly, do you know why the Democratic Progressive Party lost the presidential elections? Well, there might be a lot of explanations, but I believe one of them is that they got so much drunk with power to the extent that they became small gods and untouchable. They forgot the poor Malawians who ushered them into power. They felt that they could control the whole system. And that is how they lost it. Should we label them bad? Maybe no. What I know is that they simply went astray and may win the trust of the people again if they rebrand themselves and their party. When I look at you Dr Chakwera and Dr Chilima, at least from what the public knows, you are men of integrity with no record of public scandals such as corruption. But remember that power has compromised the integrity of most noble citizens of the world and you are not spared from the trappings of power. The old Machiavellian adage that “power corrupts” has remained a timeless truth of generations and generations. We hope that you will not fall into the temptations brought by power. We all look forward to a better Malawi initiated by you, a Malawi that everyone feels at home despite their tribal and party affiliation. If you work as promised, a new and prosperous Malawi is underway.
The writer is a Malawian currently studying Theology at the Catholic University of East Africa in Kenya. He writes in his personal capacity. Feedback: email@example.com