As Malawi votes

As Malawi inches closer to the 2009 general elections focus is being turned towards who will and can stand. The most contentious issue remains the candidacy of former president Bakili Muluzi. Parliamentary aspirants also continue to battle it out in their primaries. Serving MP’s have fallen. Ministers have fallen. Aspirants are being abducted. People are crying foul. Top party officials are nearly trading blows. All very good for a healthy democracy (of course not the trading of blows).

But there is one issue that I would like to bring up and it is do with the voters. Who should be eligible to vote? I say tax payers only. Why? Answer below

The rural masses are largely unemployed and uneducated and they don’t pay taxes. Amongst them you will find hardcore, die hard supporters of political leaders. However due to their economic and literary status many of these people are easily swayed by lies, exaggerations and money. Support for a person or party is based on emotions rather than on facts. Unfortunately most crooked politicians have bags full of lies, they grossly exaggerate issues and they tend to have a little more money than the other slightly more trustworthy candidates. Want examples? Just look around. As such, intentionally or not, these non-tax payers have the capability of putting jerks in power because they are swayed by K50’s and promises of bridges where there are not very many streams. For a tax payer like me, I vote with a little more caution because I know what sort of burdens certain politicians are capable of heaping onto society in general and on me in particular. And at the end of the day the non-tax payers he will continue to look up to me in town to provide for the needs of the people in the village. He votes into power a petty thief who will pocket my P.A.Y.E. tax and run down the economy while at the same expect me to willingly support him.

I say produce a TPIN or PAYE certificate at the polling station and be allowed to vote. If you don’t contribute to the national coffers you should not be allowed to choose who gets to manage them!!

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2 Responses

  1. Mercy says:

    I strongly agree that we should have a specification for suffrage, but I don’t think that discriminating other people according to their education attainment would be the best way out. I think that using tax information would be more efficient than what we have now. I just think that we need a better way of keeping count of who is really voting and for those people running, they need to clearly state their platforms. We just don’t want to have tirades amongst politicians.I understand how manipulative some politians can be, but I isn’t that the polical game that all other nations play??
    I just feel like multi-party democracy hasn’t worked to the benefit of the working class in Malawi. Moving to totaritarian/communism, wouldn’t be the best way out either. But yes I feel like Democracy in general works in nations that have high literacy rates and where good estimates on population data is available……. I like your topic and I also really wish we had absentee ballot….

  2. mlauzi says:

    thino, if you get a chance, try and read harri englund’s recent book, _prisoners of freedom: human rights and the african poor_ (2006). a shorter version of the book is a chapter in the book _from freedom to empowerment: tem years of democracy in malawi_ (2004).

    our view of democracy has turned out to be somehow exclusive, largely because we copied it from elsewhere, and didn’t attempt to combine it with grassroots malawian ideals of traditional governance. our schooling teaches us to embrace all things foreign, and trash all things local and endogenous. i find that unhelpful.

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