Wednesday, 24 May 2017
 
Malawians Silently Observe 23 Years Of Democracy Image sourced at gettyimages.co.uk

Malawians Silently Observe 23 Years Of Democracy

Written by  Written By Steven DAKALIRA in Blantyre May 17, 2017

Malawians are being reminded to selfless guard and defend the democracy which the country attained on this day back in 1994.

It has also been argued that democracy without a sense of duty and responsibility might not effect meaningful change that can spur industry activity and development.

23 years ago on this day, Malawians took a bold step by ushering in the first democratically elected government, with Bakili Muluzi as the President under the United Democratic Front (UDF) ticket.

The 1994 general elections on May 17 took place a year after the citizenry had lined up during a referendum, where they categorically kicked to the curl the one party regime.

This effectively ended the one party system of government, where the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) had reigned supreme for 30 solid years.

Stories about atrocities committed under the watch of the country’s founding president Hastings Kamuzu Banda continue to attract mixed views among the people.

Those that experienced it first-hand still vividly recall how they were bundled from their homes into waiting police Land Rovers, destination unknown.

Others were never to return to their homeland, while those that were fortunate lived to see the day when they would once again set their foot on home soil.

It was however not all dark and gloom during the one party era, as infrastructure development started taking shape around that time.

To this day, some of the buildings that were constructed back then are still in use, as are the roads in most cities and towns.

Social service delivery by utility providers was much better, as people did not experience too many electricity blackouts and sporadic water supply.

You would be assured of prompt assistance in public hospitals that were also well stocked with drugs.

To cap it all, there was high level of discipline in the public service.

These gains were consolidated immediately after the country embraced democracy in 1994 and the UDF even went an extra mile by making primary school education free for all.

But the plot somehow got lost along the way as problems such as chronic hunger and shortage of teachers started to creep in.

The Malawi Kwacha, which used to be quite strong against the major currencies, suddenly tumbled.

A paper presented by the International Food Policy and Research Institute in March 2013 titled ‘Exchange Rate Policy and Devaluation in Malawi shows that the local currency had for many year been pegged against a single currency and would only be devalued when problems to do with the country’s Balance of Payments (BOP) arose.

BOP is the record of all economic transactions between the residents of a country and the rest of the world in a particular year.

When the Kwacha was subsequently devalued in May 2012, Malawi found itself in an economic predicament.

The prices of goods and services went on an upward spiral and since then, life has not been easy for the ordinary citizen.

Let us not deviate, we are here celebrating the 23 years of the hard won democracy for Malawi.

Freedom of the press, expression and association are but a few of the positive takes from democracy.

The 1993 repeal of the decency in dress Act of 1973 meant that people could now dress the way they want.

Going forward, everyone hopes for the day when Malawi will be prosperous both in economical and social terms.

 

For that to materialise however, we have to put a stop to wide spread corruption and most importantly, those entrusted with governing the people have to have a selfless spirit by being servants of those who put them in office.

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