Politics in Malawi

In western politics we have seen three major directions. In Malawi and in many other African countries this seems to not apply. This may have to do with the way society is built up.

In western countries, very roughly speaking, the liberals represent the business community, the socialists the laborers, and the conservatives the “old money” and often also the highly trained professionals like doctors and such. The major part of Malawian society is the smallholder farmer. They do not feature much in western society. So who would represent them?

It seems the ruling class, high up politicians, business leaders closely allied with them and top civil servants, represent themselves, more than the population. So even with nominal democracy, the majority of the population is not represented in government, and their interests are not taken care of, apart from a little hand out here and there. The ruling class often connives with neo colonial powers, to the advantage of their personal wealth and the  colonialists. Paladin got the Malawian uranium for a bargain, by paying Bingu wa Mutharika. Monsanto is getting access to the market in Malawi. Their seed varieties need heavy use of Monsanto products like pesticides and fertilizer.

In the west the population has forced a certain level of good governance from its leaders by organizing in trade unions. This works best in big companies with a lot of laborers in one site, who can discuss their problems and unite. This has improved working conditions, because capitalists were forced to give in to collective action.

The Malawian society has not (yet?) passed through this phase, and we are partly in a feudal structure, where the land is divided up by the chief. The politicians come into the village occasionally, dishing out favors to some, and withholding to others. In this situation it is difficult to organize and create collective action.

In the Arab Spring we saw heavy use of digital technology, mostly smart phones, to organize. But these masses were much higher educated and less poor than the small holder farmer in Malawi.

The big question is: how can we organize the small holder farmer, so he/she can stand up for his/her rights? How do we get the small holder farmer into active political representation? The answer may be in the Latin American model, where Che Guevara, Simon Bolivar, Evo Morales, Lulla da Silva, Hugo Chavez and others have come to move to a representation of the poor. Another model was developed by Mao Zedong in China, organizing the small holder farmers, which eventually culminated in China being the biggest economy of the world, eliminating a lot, but far from all, poverty.

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