Politics of poverty…

As the race for who will win in Mzimba parliamentary elections rages on, one does not need to wonder how money, power and to what extent ignorance will influence the outcome. The whole Mponela bed saga is a very good example of this and it will come as no surprise if we hear of more people manipulating the system in giving out gifts to the people of Mzimba in exchange of votes. Unfortunately that is business as usual in Africa. Power politics is at play at the cost of ignorance and illiteracy.

In a way, what happened in Mponela was a good thing in that it opened up many an eye in how the system works. Some of us would never have known that this was normal practice by the Ministry of Health. In a way, we have to thank them for this particular goof up. Under normal circumstances people would question this and the motives of the government or the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) alike but as is the case most will not touch on the issue. The name bashing and a battle between personalities will however be fair game.

This then brings us to an issue my uncle brought up two years ago when I asked him about Malawian politics. His response was, “Wanyithu ku [our friends] Zambia vote on principles. Who will be the better candidate? What do they bring to the table? How will their goals/agenda help us as a community or country in the long run? Ise kuno tikuvotera uyo wikutipa bagi lavingoma, njinga na matisheti [we however vote for who brings us a bag of maize, a bicycle, T-shirts and the like] Are we serious? How then can we expect any change?”

When are Malawians going to learn that it’s not about the guy who owns that huge grocery store, or the one who comes driving up in a Mercedes Benz, or the one who gives out freebies? 48 years after independence and we still rely on the guy who gives us a T-shirt. Is this for real? To a point I blame the politicians who are comfortable with the status quo; leave the poor man uneducated, let him live on the miserable handouts (as if they buy them with their own money) because that will ensure their votes come election time.

I don’t know about you but it is time we moved away from such politics and started identifying people who will help the nation to rise up from the ashes it is in now. This is 2012 and the idea that people only think of today and not tomorrow is a scary thing. We need to pick people who have our long terms goals in mind so really, we should be more in favor of someone who will teach us how to better ourselves versus letting us be dormant.

It is no secret that stagnant waters breed a lot of mosquitoes resulting in a lot of Malaria illnesses and of course the noise that comes with them when they come to feed. No one needs the noise or the illness. Time for spraying out the swamps is now. There’s no reason why we should be having such outbreaks of noisy politicians when people have been exposed to other cultures/ideologies or medicines that can help prevent such ailments. Instead, we need to educate the people on what is best for them and the country. The best way of doing this is simple civics education.

The next thing to do is to make sure no one is left behind as far as empowerment is concerned. Statistics have shown that education of a girl child will decrease their likelihood that they will end up poor and give in to abuse of any kind. I’d like to believe that the same is true for everyone regardless of their sex.

How can such empowerment be actualized some may ask. If these representatives want to come bearing gifts let them be in the form of a vocational school or scholarships of some sort. That is of more use to the people and will benefit them in the long run. A bag of maize can be devoured in a day by the village and then what? Where will the next meal come from after the campaigns are done and the winner moves on to the house of parliament where some don’t even bother to check on their constituencies?

Though arming the MYP was wrong, it was saddening when Muluzi’s government scrapped out the program. Institutions like MYP had great vocational training centers that need to be reintroduced considering the current unemployment rates and breakdown in security. Many people are desperate and will thus turn to thievery and laziness. One way of avoiding all that is to keep them busy.

It is a no brainer that not all people will make it to university so why not give them some sort of skill training so they too are part of the rebuilding of the nation whilst taking care of their own.

Any leader who can empower his or her own people is worthy of my vote. Personally I have more respect for the people who teach me how to be better whether it be by giving me or perfecting my ideas or helping me out when I’m on a quest to do something for me or others.

You know that saying “build a man a fire and he is warm for a day but set him on fire, and he is warm for the rest of his life?” We have some in our communities who are on fire plus setting others on fire and yet we opt for the one full of empty promises bearing useless gifts. Yes a T-shirt may look good now that you are naked but who will clothe you tomorrow? Will you wait till the next election for that handout or will you go for the guy who has nothing but will be the one to develop your area? Unless they come with fire to set the village ablaze with development ideas please stop the conversation and start looking for a better candidate. Check their track record. w hat have they done for their communities so far? This litmus test is especially good for those running for re-election. As for the beginners, what tools of the trade do they bring with them to show that they will really serve the people?

Time for change is now as we can’t wait for tomorrow to sort itself out. For one, tomorrow is never promised unto anyone. Secondly, it may be a little too late. No, we can’t go back to the same rulers of yesterday and the complaining though warranted should somehow stop. Those mosquitoes making the noise should stop and ask themselves what they are doing to make a difference besides annoying others. Maybe just maybe, it is time they considered being another insect like the bee. Both stay busy but one the bee gets praised for the honey and the mosquitoes…well we all know what happens to them when they get around people.


About Mbachi Joyce Ng'oma

Femme noire. Femme Africaine.Lover of Politics. My song is of STRENGTH AND DIGNITY! Women and Children Rights are my Passion... View all posts by Mbachi Joyce Ng'oma

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