Reversals hampering our democracy 30 years later

Folks, this month marks 30 years since Malawi held the first post-independence multiparty general elections on May 17 1994.

UDF candidate Bakili Muluzi won the elections which were a consequence of the June 14 1993 national referendum on the question of whether Malawans wanted to maintain the old MCP’s one-party dictatorship or switch to the current multiparty dispensation.

Eight months before the referendum, founding president Hastings Kamuzu Banda announced a brave concession publicly in October 1992 that there would be a vote on the country’s political future. In the end, democracy won just as Muluzi triumphed in the next polls and Kamuzu conceded defeat in both elections.

Whether that concession sought to reduce pressure on the old MCP regime to bow down to local and foreign elements that agitated for change or not is neither here nor there. But the most important point is that over three million Malawians were eventually given a chance to vote and they decided for all of us in an open and fair manner.

I’m that process 35 percent of voters backed the one-party system while a motivated 63 percent majority opted for change, marking a significant turning point for Malawi’s struggle for freedom, peace and democracy.

However, there have been many slip-ups between 1994 and now on democracy, politics and governance by those we successively entrusted power with, challenging the wisdom and aspirations for a better country as conceived by many in the early 1990.

Between 1993 and now, Malawians have elected different sets of individuals who mastered the art of stomach politics and subsequently duped Mother Malawi into her many socioeconomic development opportunities. Some of them were outright opportunists who lacked the necessary vision to transform this country during campaigns.

I mean, we cannot talk about moving this country forward without addressing good governance, corruption and unity challenges, among others, which continue to benefit a few in positions of influence while grinding millions of poor citizens further into hopeless poverty.

It is clear that since 1994, the impacts of corruption have disproportionately affected the most vulnerable Malawians and continue to deter national investment, economic growth and the rule of law.

Then there is hunger, disease, envy, widening disunity, laziness, high unemployment and crime rates, gender inequalities and poor standards of infrastructure such as roads that continue to counter national progress.

We can also not deny, on the flip side, that there has been commendable progress in setting up concrete development foundations and building on those that were previously started in the fields of health, agriculture, economy, human rights and education, among others, as we strive to achieve the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the country’s long-term development strategy, Malawi 2063.

But this does not dilute my earlier point that national progress has largely slowed down since 1994 due to bad political choices that Malawians made in past elections. Arguably we have previously elected more rulers who worked hard to consolidate their grip on power and championed multiple democratic reversals for personal benefits than leaders with vision who are willing to remove their power-loaded crowns anytime to stand by fellow citizens and bear the suffering with them in times of strife.

Am saying this deliberately because we are drawing closer to the 2025 election campaign where politicians will again tell more lies than truths and later fail to deliver on their promises when elected into power.

The sooner this stops happening, the faster Malawi’s development agenda will start to move forward in a real sense.

As ordinary citizens, we can also play different roles in safeguarding the democratic systems we all embraced in 1994 to make Malawi a better place than it is today.

Only Then we can start celebrating our genuine multiparty democracy.

The post Reversals hampering our democracy 30 years later first appeared on Nation Online.

The post Reversals hampering our democracy 30 years later appeared first on Nation Online.