When constituents are slapped in the face

Written by  Ayamba Kandodo - MEC Stringer

Until days ago, constituents in Mangochi District did not give up participating in the forthcoming 2019 Tripartite Elections. They had been waiting this voting time with bated breath. They wanted to exercise their constitutional right regarding elections – a right to vote and elect leaders.

Makwere: Some of the elected leaders let us down Makwere: Some of the elected leaders let us down

As a result they were following events leading to the elections with keen interest. They didn’t want to miss things.

One such person is Fatima Daudi, 46, who comes from Chomba Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Mponda in the district. She scribbled “21 May 2019” in her file as the date Malawians will go to the ballot to choose a President, Members of Parliament (MPs) and Councilors.

“I wrote this information and kept in my diary just to make sure that I should not forget this important date,” she says.

In fact, it will be the sixth time for Daudi to participate in an election.

"Since the country attained democracy, I have been participating in every election. I took part in the elections of 1994, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014. So why should I miss the elections this time around?” she brags.

Daudi says she participates in an election because she knows that elections offer electorates a chance to elect leaders who can transform the country.

Like a staunch believer, despite broken promises by the politicians during the previous elections, she has never felt let down. She banks hope on politicians’ promises. She can’t tire voting. She hopes one day the country will choose God-sent leaders who will transform it.

“I am a bona fide citizen of this country and I always ensure that I should take part in a vote. Above all, it is through voting where we can oust bad leaders and put into power visionary leaders,” she dishes out.

Her counterpart, Christina Makwere, 32, who comes from Kalonga Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Mponda equally can’t miss an election. She says it is the only golden opportunity to “part ways” with crooks.

She has been eyeing the 2019 tripartite elections as an opportune time where she will use her vote to punish non-performing duty-bearers.

“I have longed for this day. I missed to choose right candidates during the previous elections. Now that the chances are lying ahead, I want to utilize this election to choose development conscious people,” reveals Makwere.

However, in what could be described as a drama, ten months away from the elections, the constituents have made a U-turn. They have vehemently announced their truancy to the elections.

But why such sudden change?

Like a can of a soft drink, which is discarded upon completion of its contents, she feels lied to and fooled by the people she thought were God-sent to answer their problems.

“We are still struggling to get even a single borehole for our area. Our schools, including teachers’ houses in the country are in tatters, no drugs in the health facilities, not to talk about the poor road networks. With this kind of behavior, should we still wake up as early as 6 am to go and vote? Never!” says Daudi.

She blames herself for wasting her time in the previous elections, saying it was better if she could spend such time on her business of selling dry fish.

“I regret for my precious time. This time it will be difficult for me to go to the polling centres unless we sign social contracts with our leaders. And the social contract should be legally binding which will give us powers to remove the incumbent leaders whenever they are involved in fraudulent acts,” proposes Daudi.

“Honestly speaking, the writings are on the wall for everyone to see. We have lost trust in our leaders; hence, we can’t vote for them,” echoes Makwere.

Like her counterpart, she too felt stabbed in the stomach. She can only go to the ballot if there are written agreements between the voters and politicians.

“Unless there are legal instruments, politicians shall never stop stealing or telling lies and voters shall never stop crying,” elaborates Makwere.

She says the absence of the legal instruments creates a vacuum and makes politicians to fiddle with the electorate in any way they want.

National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Trust District Civic Education Officer for Mangochi Turner Banda said it is unfortunate that leaders, instead of delivering what they promised during the campaign period, they tend to forget their constituents up to the extent of abusing resources which were supposed to benefit the voters, saying this erodes the hype voters have towards their leaders.

“This behavior is suicidal to Malawi’s democracy as it discourages people from participating in future elections,” he observes.

However, Banda encourages the constituents to avoid boycotting the elections, but to use such votes as weapons that would take away bad apples from political seats.

“Let our agonies be driving forces that will propel us to register in the forthcoming Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) voter registration during our phase in Mangochi which will run from 19th September to 2nd October 2018 and use the same to vote during the polling day,” he advises.

Banda says boycotting elections means giving chance to such corrupt leaders to continue with their crooked ways.

“You can’t shun your constitutional right. If you fail to participate in the vote then know that you have sold your right and at the very same time you are contributing towards putting people who are not fit to govern in power,” tips Banda.

Now, as we are creeping towards 21 May 2019 Tripartite Elections it is not known whether what the constituents in Mangochi are saying is a sign of graduating from a docile nation or not.

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