As a potential first time voter come May 2014, I have always been wondering if my vote really counts. If I vote will it make any difference? What do I lose if I don’t vote? Thanks to a few friends who managed to convince me on my role as a citizen to participate in the 2014 tripartite elections. Since the day I was schooled on the subject, I have made every effort to attend the gatherings conducted by my aspiring presidents with hope that one would manage to popper me into his/her camp.
Being a youth, I have been coaxed by a lot of my youngsters to vote for one Mr. Atupele Austin Muluzi because at 36 he is a young fellow. As I thought of being generous with my vote to my fellow youngman, I accidentally met a church friend who encouraged me to vote for People’s party candidate who happens to be the current leader saying that we all belong to the same church, I mean simply because we are both Presbyterians. At this point I was puzzled as to who deserves my vote between my fellow youth and a church mate considering that I know none of them personally except that the former is a son to the man who brought us democracy while the latter is the architect of the ‘Mudzi transformation trust’. As am trying to decide one friend who has a poor command of English I guess because of his Chewa drawl, sells me a new candidate in the name of Reverend Dr Lazarus Chakwera who is the current leader of the ‘old gun’ Malawi Congress Party. This time there is much turmoil in my head as this fellow convinces me that it’s time that we vote for our homeboy, “You and me are both from the central region, and we have to give our votes to our Chewa fellow” says the friend.
This puzzle forced me to be present at the MCP candidate’s southern region maiden rally at Njamba Freedom Park on Saturday 14th September. I liked one thing about the ‘man of the day’ that he did not waste much of my time burbling nothings when he was given the podium by his Southern region party chairperson a Mr. Dennis Nanthumba. First on his list was a heap of thanks to his party’s loyalists which was none of my business because since I went there to listen to what the ‘man of God’ has in store for the Malawians if he can be trusted with the throne.
Taking the crowd by surprise, the party leader did not engage in a battle of words as some of our leaders do, he started out by unmasking the agendas he and his party leadership has for the nation. The president urged all Malawians to be unified despite of the differences in cultural, religious or racial background. “As a nation we need to have one vision so that our nation has to move forward in all aspects”.
Myself being someone who did not experience the Kamuzu Banda one party rule it is simple to forgive the atrocities committed by the MCP but not my Uncles, Aunts and grandparents who always narrate the ordeals they suffered in the hands of the defunct Malawi Young Pioneers, the Reverend cum politician stood on the podium to apologized for all the heinousness that happened in the past. He emphasized that as a party, they have learnt from what happened in the past and it’s time that they concentrate on building a better image. “A wise person is the one who learns from the past and decides to move forward and change for a better future” said Chakwera.
The Malawi Congress Party leader went on to explain to the people that Malawians have to stand up and fight against poverty. He urged the people at the gathering to avoid politics of castigation but to embrace politics where people have to discuss development ideas. “We have to be brave and fight the curse of poverty which makes us to move four steps forward and six steps backwards. We have to realize that we are not a cursed but we are blessed so we have to move forward and be proud Malawians. All of us have to benefit from the resources that have been bestowed on our nation. Let us not waste time ridiculing our colleagues but rather we have to discuss issues which can help in developing our nation. Let no one in the MCP waste time by disgracing other people but we need to maintain our dignity and honor” he said.
On education, he said his government will ensure that teachers in all levels are taken good care of. He also talked that he would like construct more technical colleges so that the youths who haven’t been able to make it into the public or private universities can acquire technical skills and be self reliant. Am not sure about the authenticity of these promises but if they can be fulfilled I bet we can have a better Malawi.
The former Assemblies of God Church president also mentioned the issue of distribution of wealth that many of the people who own enterprises do not give opportunities to other people to try their luck. Dr Chakwera bemoaned the tendency of corruption and favoritism in awarding government contracts “There is a need for transparency and accountability in offering business contracts. There has to be openness on business deals between the government and the business sector.” He said it’s time that the resources which have been bestowed on our nation have to be shared equally. He went on to inform the audience that his government will have a National Entrepreneurship Policy which will help in driving economic development. He cited other developed nations who have been transformed not because of the large scale businesses but that 70% of their income is gained by the small and medium scale business enterprise so there is a need to empower them.
He went on to say that our Agriculture should not only focus on the production of subsistence materials but that we have to produce surplus commodities of high quality which can withstand the competition on the global market. He also talked of reviving the railway system in order to reduce overage charges which are incurred when we transport our goods to foreign countries. The ‘transformation leadership’ architect also emphasized that the current land acquisition system has to be reviewed so that all Malawians must have quick access to land and housing. “The Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) has to be expanded and it has to reach out to all people not only those in the urban but even those in the rural have to benefit from the schemes.”
The 2014 MCP presidential candidate finished his speech by calling all leaders to serve their wards with honour and diligence. “Leaders do not have to be praised and the people do not have to look to the leaders for all their needs. But we all have to work together. Relatives are those who hold our hands while in trouble but it does not have to be a tendency to always rely on the helpers” concluded Reverend Chakwera.
In an interview with the party’s Secretary General Dr. Chris Daza after the rally on the number of people at the event, he said to them they are satisfied with the turn up because this is just a maiden rally for Dr. Chakwera in the Southern region and they expect more people in the coming rallies. Asked on the propensity of politicians who always promise things but do not deliver when ushered into power he said the MCP follows in the footsteps of late Ngwazi Kamuzu Banda who fulfilled all the promised he gave to Malawians before he went out of power, so the current party leadership would like to follow suit.
At exactly 17:10 hours, I now had something to reflect on from one of the people who want my vote come May. I really liked the message of unity which he included almost in every aspect if we are to develop. I am tempted to believe that nothing for us can happen without us. I still have seven months to decide on who gets my vote, not based on where does he/she come from, or their religion but on what are they going to offer me if I give my allegiance to them!