“Political campaigns are the graveyard of real ideas and the birthplace of empty promises”, said Teresa Heinz, America Businesswoman and philanthropist. This statement underscores the importance of scrutinizing political campaign promises.
It is very unfortunate that politicians in Malawi take advantage of the citizens due to their poverty, illiteracy and desperation.
Unscrupulous politicians have grown so cunning that they take pride in buying votes even by giving the voters handouts in the form of packets of sugar, a tablet of soap or a bottle of beer. Guess what! Little do people know that the purchased vote will put a politician into an insatiable position for the next five years corruptly amassing wealth while the voters are languishing in dire poverty.
As 2025 General Elections are drawing closer, most politicians will leave their comfort zones and associate with the local citizens.
Some will kneel down in political rallies literally begging for votes. Others will start attending funerals of local villagers in an attempt to gain sympathy votes. Others will publicly eat locally fried chips and dirty raw usipa. That is why many Malawians are bamboozled as to why these politicians don’t do the same things once they are voted into lucrative positions of power.
Taking advantage of high illiteracy levels in Malawi, most politicians have gone a step further to promise the gullible Malawians the moon. It is pathetic that a gullible voter ululates at the mention of every campaign promise. It is against this background that I am mobilising my fellow Malawians to be ‘smart’ by evaluating every campaign promise uttered by a crooked politician.
For starters, the term ‘smart’ is an acronym. It stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. I will endeavour to elucidate this phenomenon by giving examples. I will mostly use the much-touted Tonse Alliance campaign promise of creating one million jobs within the first of their reign.
Firstly, this job creation promise was not largely specific about the kind of jobs that would be created. Were they formal or informal jobs or both? Temporary or permanent jobs? From private or government sector or both? Let us look at this simple scenario. If someone is employed for just an hour offloading subsidised fertilizer from a truck and yet he stays unemployed for the rest of the year, can Tonse Alliance Government claim that it is one of the promised one million jobs?
Secondly, it is good that the Tonse Alliance specified the number of jobs to be created. However, it failed to put in place procedures that would assist to know whether the promise had been fulfilled or not. For every campaign promise, we need to find the means of how we can determine its success.
Thirdly, campaign promises must be achievable. A voter was supposed to ask very pertinent question. Has the government put in place deliberate policies and conducive environment to achieve the creation of one million jobs within a year?
Fourthly, we need realistic campaign promises too. Most of the times unrealistic promises are not achievable. For instance, if Tonse Alliance promised that it would create one million government jobs and yet the whole civil service can only accommodate 600,000 employees then such a campaign promise is not only unachievable but also unrealistic.
Mind you, retrenching employees to create room for other political diehards is not job creation.
It is pathetic that most of the campaign promises were neither time-bound nor the timely. At least Tonse Alliance committed itself to create one million jobs within the first year of their regime. However, other promises were supposed to be categorised as being short term, medium term, and long term promises.
In conclusion, my fellow Malawians, let us be smart when electing politicians in 2025 by evaluating their campaign promises as it is true that such promises tend to be unfilled.