By Mandy Pondani:
Four days ago, Malawians celebrated 55 years of independence under the theme ‘Celebrating Our Freedom with Peace, Unity and Love’. It is important that we delve deeper into the theme, which centres on three values that, over time, have become more less like a cliché.
It is high time every well-meaning Malawian paused a bit and reflected on how these pillars resonate with the day-to-day realities of our lives.
For a long time, Malawi has been ranked among countries that have no history of war, to the effect that, as we celebrated 55 years of independence on Saturday, Malawi ranks 40th on the global index of peace by the Institute for Economics and Peace.
Such ironical ranking is self-revealing and explanatory. But, then, peace is not simply the absence of war or conflict alone in a region or a country.
Political commentator Makhumbo Munthali said the truth of the matter is that the majority of Malawians are not living peacefully due to abject poverty and rising levels of corruption.
Munthali said if only political leaders went beyond rhetoric, Malawians would, surely, benefit from peace, love and unity.
“Honestly speaking, Malawians are not enjoying the benefits of peace due to widespread poverty as well as increasing levels of corruption.
“The other problem pertains to failure of public administrators to deliver to the expectations of citizens due to various ‘-isms’ (nepotism, regionalism and favoritism). Leaders should rise above the occasion and unite this country if the peace we boast about is to be meaningful to everyone,” Munthali explained.
Another commentator Emily Mkamanga corroborates with Munthali, saying Malawi’s leadership has failed to nurture the peace and freedom that politicians boast about.
She reiterated that those in political offices have failed to unite the country, adding that they thrive on the very vices that divide this country, namely the propensity to fall in the trap of regionalism and tribalism.
She said the fact that this year’s Independence Day came under the mist of general d is content, culminating in nationwide demons t rat ions , should serve as an indication that something is wrong in Malawi.
“These post-election demonstrations are a humble reminder that we are not there yet, especially because those seeking justice in terms of elections’ management are still searching for freedom,” Mkamanga said.
She said some of the people could be demonstrating because they are facing challenges in their day-to-day lives.
“People are going through unthinkable economic problems; being part of the so-called Warm Heart of Africa has not served them meaningfully as it should,” Mkamanga said.
However, government spokesperson Mark Botomani indicated, in a statement, that Malawi has made strides in terms of promoting socio-economic development.
Botomani, who is also Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communications Technology, calls on Malawians to cherish the peace and help the country’s president Peter Mutharika in his development endeavours.
“This year’s theme is very befitting as you may recall that, two weeks ago, the Global Peace Index ranked Malawi the third most peaceful country in Africa. Malawians have always been known for peace, love and unity and that is why Malawi is also known as the Warm Heart of Africa,” he says in the statement.
This year’s Independence Day commemorations were held in Blantyre.