Opinion: A better future for Malawi is possible

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I, Rick Dzida, as the bonafide citizen of this country , have the honour of addressing the Malawi nation.
It is my profound wish to make this public address as brief as possible in view of not wasting your precious time.

1) Political violence

For starters, I am very much perturbed by the current emerging political violence that has ensued for a couple of weeks ago between the ruling Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters.

This is a very pathetic situation as we are drawing near towards the 2025 Tripartite General Elections and also bearing in mind that the two major antagonistic parties are the ones who are involved in such political fracas.

Without putting a blame on any political entity, may I humbly request leaders of all political parties to advise their party members to desist from deliberately provoking each other.

I therefore plead with party leaders including State President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera and former President Prof. Peter Mutharika to issue a formal statement advising their political adherents to desist from any form of political violence.

2) 2025 Tripartite General elections

It is my humble wish that all political parties must take full responsibility to ensure that 2025 tripartite general elections are conducted in a peaceful, free, transparent and fair manner.

May I also firmly grab this auspicious opportunity to advise all stakeholders that if they have any electoral complaints, they must proactively lodge them with the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) now otherwise Malawians don’t want a repeat of what was dubbed by some quarters as judicial coup.

Emphasis must be made here that Malawi Tripartite General Elections will indeed be held in 2025 against some disgruntled and misguided diaspora advocates who want that elections should be held in May 2024.

By the way, how practical is this? I still recall the time I was insulted for faulting the Constitutional Court on a number of erroneous judgments in 2020. For example, I vehemently criticised the unconstitutional six year tenure of office for the current members of parliament. Where were these advocates from the diaspora that time?

3) Worsening economic situation

It is pathetic that Malawi’s economy has worsened under the leadership of Dr. Lazarus Chakwera. Although donors have resumed budgetary support, excessive borrowing and over-expenditure by the current regime have plunged our economy further into a bottomless abyss.

President Chakwera is therefore implored to widely consult with appropriate stakeholders including the former president Prof. Peter Mutharika to resuscitate this ailing economy. It is popularly believed that Malawi’s economy was fairly stable during Mutharika’s regime.

Furthermore, President Chakwera is urged to walk the talk in as far as following economic austerity measures is concerned because he has proved to a pathetic hypocrite in this arena. For instance, President Chakwera’s frequent domestic and foreign travels have further depleted Government coffers.

It is widely believed that Malawi Government could have saved a lot of money if some of these exigencies were delegated to Chakwera’s subordinates.

4) Corruption

At the pace we are moving, it is an undeniable fact that Malawi is dismally losing the battle against corruption. Our trusted leaders including President Chakwera, Vice President Saulos Chilima, Cabinet ministers, Director of Public Prosecutions, Director General of ACB, Ms Martha Chizuma and Chief Justice Rezine Mzikamanda have collectively exuded no political and conscious will to crackdown on corruption.

As a matter of substantiation, President Chakwera has fuelled corrupt practices by pardoning corruption suspect, Bakili Muluzi and corruption convict, Uladi Mussa.

We are not therefore flabbergasted to see that government top officials including Vice President Saulos Chilima and former cabinet ministers such as Kezzie Msukwa and Newton Kambala are currently answering corruption charges.

It is unfortunate that some corrupt court judges under the tutelage of Chief Justice Rezine Mzikamanda granted court orders restraining ACB from prosecuting corruption suspects such as Kezzie Msukwa and other Zunneth Sattar’s associates.

It is pathetic that the whole Director General of ACB and Director of Public Prosecutions are directly involved in promoting corruption by dropping corruption charges of State Residences official, Prince Kapondamgaga for no apparent reason.

It is unfathomable to see the Director General of ACB, Ms Martha Chizuma being paranoid of issuing a formal statement over allegations that the Secretary General of the ruling MCP, Eisenhower Mkaka, was involved in receiving a bribe from a UK based business magnate, Zunneth Sattar.

Malawians expect Martha Chizuma as the Director General of ACB, to take an impartial leading role of stamping out corruption without fear or favour.

5) Selective and delayed justice

At this juncture, I would like to concur with the recent pastoral letter issued by the Malawian bishops that justice delayed is justice denied.

For example, there are convicts such as Ralph Kasambara and Thom Mpinganjira who have been on bail for over 2 years without any prospect of appearing in court soon.

On the other hand, do ACB, Courts and law enforcement agencies think that it is meting out appropriate justice by merely arresting corruption suspects such as Ashok, Enock Chihana, Nicholas Dausi, Newton Kambala and many others without reaching any logical court conclusion?

6) Unconstitutional court judgments

As I pointed out in my precious articles that 2020 Constitutional Court verdict was marred with gargantuan legal and constitutional anomalies.

For instance, it is unconstitutional for current crop of members of Parliament to hold office for six years. In fact, their official five year term constitutionally ends this year.

Furthermore, the judges’ argumentum ad dictionarium interpretation of the Constitutional word ‘majority’ gave way to equivocal meanings. Merely arguing from a black law dictionary is fallacious as it does not consider the context in which the legal word was used.

Paradoxically, prior to 2020 Constitutional Court verdict, the Supreme court of appeal had correctly interpreted the contextual meaning of ‘majority’ as first past the post.

Regrettably, following 2020 anomalous constitutional court verdict, we are in a situation whereby presidential elections are decided upon by applying 50% + 1 majority while local government and parliamentary elections use the forsaken simple majority.

It is believed that such equivocation and ambiguity could have been avoided if 2020 Constitutional Court judges were impartial and non-partisan in their legal reasoning.

As the President of Malawi who vowed to defend the Malawi Constitution, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera is therefore called upon to fulfil his obligation of defending the supreme Malawi Constitution.

7) Partisan speaker of the National Assembly

Unlike Louis Chimango of the MCP who chose to professionally discharge his duties as the Speaker of the National Assembly, the current Speaker Mrs Catherine Gotani Hara is determined to transform parliament into a political battlefield.

Nowhere in the parliamentary Malawian history would a speaker, as Mrs. Catherine Gotani Hara did, be involved in choosing the leader of opposition in the august house.

It is only during Hara’s speakership when the National Assembly has abandoned its own standing orders of electing the leader of opposition in parliament while respecting a court injunction.

Parliamentary standing orders are clear that the leader of opposition in parliament must come from the main political party which has the second largest number of Members of Parliament.

It is a fact that the current leader of opposition, Kondwani Nankhumwa, is an independent member of parliament. Since when did independent members of parliament automatically become a member of a political party?

The Speaker Catherine Gotani Hara is implored to discharge her duties professionally by following the parliamentary standing order without fear or favour.

8) Undermining office of the ombudsman

It is very unfortunate that the Judiciary feels so superior that it can wipe out the office of the Ombudsman willy-nilly.

The notable memorable case is that of Mr. Henry Kachaje who was faulted by the Office of Ombudsman for having been unduly recruited to the position of Chief Executive Officer of the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA).

It is very unfortunate that the court went ahead to restrain the Office of Ombudsman from releasing such report when it provided room for lodging any complaint to the court.

The aftermath of this fracas is that Mr. Henry Kachaje is still clinging to the post despite the fact that he was found to be underqualified at the time of his recruitment.

The courts are therefore advised never to poke their nose into the running of affairs of duly established government institutions.

9) Public service delivery

Malawians feel duped when the Tonse Alliance promised them that public service delivery will be improved.

Four years down Chakwera’s regime, public service delivery has dismally worsened.

For instance, how can the whole government halt the printing of passports?

As if this is not enough, corruption has eroded public service delivery in almost all public sectors including road traffic department, immigration department, Malawi police services and many others.

What is most unfortunate is that President Chakwera has failed to show any iota of political will to improve public service delivery.

Instead of implementing what was contained in the public sector reform report, President Chakwera chose to hide it under the carpet.

It is unfortunate that three years since the public sector reform report was released, nothing has been implemented.

10) Independence of three arms of Government

Section 7, 8 and 9 of the Malawi Constitution provide separation of powers and functions of the three arms of Government namely the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature.

It is very unfortunate that the Judiciary feels that it has grown so big that it can override the decisions and functions of the Legislature.

For instance, it was unfathomable that the Judiciary in 2020 introduced 50% + 1 as the interpretation of the word ‘majority’ when the National Assembly had already rejected such interpretation.

Recently, Malawians were surprised that the National Assembly abandoned its own standing orders of electing a leader of opposition while respecting the court injunction.

It seems that the Judiciary has grown so superior because it anomalously nullified the 2019 presidential elections. Unfortunately, the 2020 Constitutional Court verdict created more confusion than harmony in our constitution.

11) Nepotism, regionalism, tribalism and cronyism

The unfortunate mentality held by our political leaders that they should favour their relatives or people from their tribes and regions for opportunities is taking Malawi many steps backwards.

Against people’s expectations, nepotism, tribalism and regionalism have grown so rampant that one can’t even get a public employment without being connected to a government official.

This is not surprising because upon ascending to power both President Chakwera and his Vice President Saulos Chilima swiftly recruited their daughter and mother-in-law to diplomatic positions respectively.

The truth of the matter is that Malawi belongs to all citizens regardless of their political affiliation, tribe and district of origin.

President Chakwera is therefore cordially advised to discharge his duties without fear or favour.

12) Smart campaign promises

It has been the norm for political leaders to cheat innocent Malawians by offering them unattainable and unrealistic promises.

For instance, it is pathetic that most Chakwera’s promises have not been fulfilled. Toppling on the list are: cheap fertiliser, improved standard of life, warding off corruption, bullet trains, creation of one million jobs and many others.

As we are nearing 2025 Tripartite General Elections, political leaders are duly advised to offer Malawians smart promises.

In fact, smart promises are those that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound.
In conclusion, it is my profound belief that a better Malawi is possible if and only if the aforementioned 12 concerns are collectively addressed.

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