Following Noel Chalamanda’s downfall in the mayoral elections, I committed to take a selfie along all roundabouts in the City of Blantyre. When I confided in a very close friend of this mission, he was shocked!
Before he could ask me why? I explained: It is clear, judging on the reaction on social media, that like Donald Trump, no one expected Ndipo to unseat his boss.
The general expectation was that Noel Chalamanda would retain his mayoral seat. People took to social media to express their frustrations on ‘the system’ that had kicked out Mr. Chalamanda out of office, saying he had transformed the city from the pits of hell where previous mayors had left it.
With interest and for purpose of debate, I asked a couple of people of Chalamanda’s achievements. First on the list of everyone I asked was ‘roundabouts’. Inu simukuona momwe ma roundabout akuwonekera! To say I was shocked with this is an understatement.
Are roundabouts the legacy that Chalamanda was fighting for a second mandate? Are roundabouts the reason why people, including well known writers and respected journalists as well as activists, showered insults and other defamatory remarks at Ndipo including on his looks?
Some claimed ‘Blantyre’s cleanliness was the reason they had banked on Chalamanda’s second term’. I posed: who makes Blantyre, a city that was once voted the cleanest city in the world, filthy? Anyway, we love washing other people’s dirty laundry.
In channelling their frustrations, it is now claimed that the bylaws must be amended to allow all people of Blantyre to vote in these elections; similar to demands by the Democrats in the US who are demanding the abolishment of the electoral college in preference for the popular vote following Donald Trump’s victory despite losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton.
This group asserts with authority that ‘councillors’ who voted for Ndipo are not representing us because the majority of ‘us’ wanted Chalamanda.
“The councillors did not consult us. They were voting for their own interests,” they fume, forgetting it were the same councillors who voted for Chalamanda about 2 years ago. I did not ask whether 2 years ago, the frustrated lot were consulted.
But shouldn’t we be taking councillors to task rather than the system that gave us Chalamanda? Is it the system that made Chalamanda lose or was it the councillors voting their personal interest rather than that of their electors – the us.
What assurance do we have that if we are all allowed to vote in these city mayors, we will get the results we want? Can the ‘new’ system that we want not be open to abuse and manipulation? I believe that if all Malawians had been allowed to vote during the third/open term crisis, Bakili Muluzi could possibly have still been president to this day.
We knew that mayoral elections in the city were underway but I have my doubts if any of us contacted our councillors to tell them whom we wanted them to vote for. I am convinced it is not the system we should be fighting.