There are moments in a nation’s history when a government is so broken and the plight of its citizens is so desperate that lasting healing can only come if the cure is administered by more than one physician. Malawi is a patient in critical condition with multiple vital organs of the state failing, requiring emergency surgical procedures to be carried out by different hands working together in concert to stop her bleeding and alleviate her suffering.
Not only is Malawi’s condition worse now than it was five, or ten, or fifteen, or twenty, or twenty five years ago, but her prognosis is bleak. The prospects of you as a citizen getting the attention you need and seeing your living conditions improve under the care of President Mutharika and his many desperate placebos are down to zero. This is because he finds himself in the unenviable position of sitting at the head of a cabinet that has been defamed by five years of executive-level corruption, discredited by five years of his ruling party’s broken promises, and divided by an embarrassing and public war of bitter words with his own deputy.
But while we know that those in power now are the wrong physicians for us to recruit for the recovery of Malawi, the critical condition of the nation is the result of many years of insufficient interventions to end the culture of state neglect and abuse that has prevailed under every administration that has had a turn and made an attempt to unilaterally fix the country, only to find that their hands and their tools alone were not enough. Malawi is not in its current mess because MCP was in government for 30 years, or because UDF was in government for 10 years, or because PP was in government for 2 years, or because DPP has been in government for 13 years. Rather, Malawi is in crisis because each administration has tried to remove the government dysfunctions created under multiple administrations without getting all hands on deck. But the time has now come for us to accept two realities: first, that each party in Malawi has contributed to the failing condition of the state, and secondly, that each party in Malawi and each region in Malawi must be part of the solution and cure.
I myself became convinced of these two realities in the wake of the 2014 elections, which gave President Mutharika and the DPP the impossible task of leading a country in which two thirds of the citizens did not want them. I foresaw that the DPP would not be able to deliver its manifesto, because as a nation, we are a house divided against itself, and the divisions in the Mutharika cabinet that have been exposed by this election are merely an extension of our political and national disunity, in the face of which we have not and cannot make progress, no matter who the President is or which party wins the election.
Being fully persuaded of this, in 2015 I began the painstaking work of reaching out to the leaders of other parties, regardless of their record or the region where they command the largest support. I did this on the understanding that no matter who we are or what we think of each other or how we’ve wronged each other in the past, we all belong to one nation, share a common destiny, and therefore, we must all give each other an opportunity to participate in rectifying the errors we have made as a people. I did this believing that if we do not all stand united, we will continue to fall divided. And that is why and when I made overtures to Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda, who emerged from the last election with a constituency of over one million Malawians and who continues to command the respect and trust of many in this country and around the world.
I reached out to her because I believed that no matter what opinions those of you who did not vote for her may have of her or what opinions those of you who did not vote for me may have of me, the task of Uniting Malawi under a common vision to Build A New Malawi cannot be accomplished if Dr. Joyce Banda and over one million of you who support her are not part of it. I have since had many discussions with Her Excellency about the need to unite our forces, not for the purpose of winning an election, which leads to alliances forged in bad faith with no intention of fulfilling commitments made to uphold the spirit of unity, but for the sake of building a new Malawi enjoyed by everyone. As people who have differences of perspective and who lead different parties, the task of finding common ground has been long and arduous, and at times, we have both deemed it impossible, concluding that perhaps there are too many in our parties who would rather we work with other parties than with each other. However, I have always found myself failing to escape the two harsh realities and stubborn facts I mentioned earlier, that we have all participated in the creation of a dysfunctional nation and must now all work together on its repair. And so I persisted in my pursuit of this partnership.
And so I want to publicly thank you, Dr. Joyce Banda, for persevering through the difficulties and sensitivities of our discussions and for your willingness to sacrifice and lend the political capital you still have in this country in support of my offer to serve Malawians as their next President. I assure you, Your Excellency, that the brightest and the best members of the People’s Party will have a role to play in my government, and the best and brightest ideas and programs in the manifesto of the People’s Party will be included in the execution of the priorities of my SUPER HI5 AGENDA that guarantees Servant Leadership, Uniting Malawi, Prospering Together, Ending Corruption, and Rule of Law.
You and I have found common ground in these values, because it is beyond dispute that you pursued these values as
much as you were able during your presidency:
You sat with the poorest Malawians in rural areas and took personal interest in their suffering, embodying Servant Leadership
You put aside your grievances against your political rivals and your predecessor by honouring late President Bingu and his family in the dignifiedconduct of his state funeral, showing your commitment to Uniting Malawi
You laboured to reduce electricity blackouts, end massive forex, fuel, and sugar shortages, restored donor confidence and support to our nationalbudget, championed interventions designed to give every rural household a secure home and livelihood, thus promoting an economy in which Malawianscould start Prospering Together
You commissioned a bold and large scale audit of government departments, leading to the exposure and expulsion of corrupt elements ofyour own administration and the arrest and prosecution of members of your own cabinet. This is a feat that has yet to be matched in the present cultureof shielding ministers who are caught red handed trying to steal maize from ADMARC, or ministers who are caught with bags of inexplicable cash, orstate house official who have amassed assets worth millions overnight, or a president who is caught red handed with a bribe in an account only hecontrols. And so the exposure and expulsions you started towards Ending Corruption is a work I will finish.
Finally, you submitted yourself to an electoral process in May 2014 without tampering with votes, destroying ballot boxes, doctoring tallysheets, or using violence to intimidate political rivals or to cling to power, thus showing your commitment to the Rule of Law as I am.
It is these common values we share that have brought us to this moment, and that form the basis of our mutual agreement to work together to Build A New Malawi. The same is true of the alliance between Malawi Congress Party and the Freedom Party, and the same will be true of the alliances we will form with other parties who have yet to accept the inconvenient truths we have, firstly that ending the DPP’s culture of corruption and violence is something we must do together and, secondly, that we need to be on the same team to hold each other accountable before Malawians in order to protect them from the corrupt and intransigent elements that exist in all our parties. The greatest threat to our country is the empowerment of a single party that is not in partnership with another party large enough to hold it accountable from within government and within the presidency, for that is an experiment we as a nation have already tried and found to be a recipe for disaster.
By contrast, the MCP-FP-PP alliance is not merely an electoral alliance, but a nation-building alliance, committed to working together to create a capable democratic developmental state that is not at the mercy of the abuse and excess of a single party. And when it comes to the mission to Build A New Malawi, there is plenty of room at the table, and so we invite and welcome other parties to join us. The broken past of this nation is the making of all of us, and the restoration that awaits us in the future must be a product from all of us. This is the beginning of a long awaited national repentance, in which all of us take responsibility for stopping the bad we’ve done or starting the good we’ve neglected to do to our nation and each other.
No one else will Build A New Malawi for us, for it is we on whom God has bestowed this heritage called Malawi. It is we, with all our individual past mistakes, failures, and shortcomings, who must come together and admit that there is no party among us that does not have the toxic elements we must get rid of before we can put the dark past behind us and there is no party among us that does not have the patriotic elements we must harness before we can seize the bright future before us.
Together with these nation-building partners and any others willing to come, I and Honorable Sidik Mia pledge ourselves to that task as your next
President and Vice President. Timange Malawi Wa Fresh.
Thank you and God bless Malawi.