We do not have enough politics in Malawi. Often you hear the call for: eave politics out of development or out of something else. But the problem is the other way round: we have no politics in Malawi. What we have instead is infighting in the ruling class, who are trying to get a bigger piece of the National Wealth for themselves. That is self enrichment, selfishness, irresponsibility, and plain crime. Politics is something else. Politics is to have a conviction for how to run the country (or the world or an organization) best. And this is not a technocratic matter, it is a matter of deep conviction. Do we feel the “free market” should run the economy with little government involvement (liberal economics) or do we feel the government should play a role in the economy? Should government take care of the poor (which at present it does a very bad job at!)? Or should government create a situation where everyone can pursue his/her own happiness and success?
If we look at the background of our main three political parties (the PP is not to be taken seriously) I think we get an idea where they are coming from. Unfortunately their actions are so inconsistent it had no big bearing on the direction of the country.
The ruling party DPP was founded by Bingu wa Mutharika, who as president followed mostly socialist or communist policies. Unfortunately he was a dreadfully bad economist, so he caused more harm then good, also according to the targets of socialism. But look at this: he subsidized fertilizer. His starting point there was not: what is the cost of fertilizer? That would be liberal, or right wing. His starting point was: what can the farmer afford? That is a socialist way of looking at the situation. He fixed the exchange rate, which gave rise to shortages of everything from drugs to sugar to fuel. These are problems that were common in communist societies (when they still existed). He “set” minimum prices for agricultural outputs like tobacco and cotton. The problem was that he did not allocate the funds to back this up, and buy as a government for the minimum prices. So either he enforced minimum prices and the cotton went unsold, giving the cotton farmer a huge loss. Or he enforced only intermittently, and the tobacco was sold cheaper anyway. So here he did not have the capacity to uphold his own policies. The result was economic havoc and Mutharika got the biggest demonstration in democratic Malawi against him. Here he answered in a Stalinist (which is NOT communist) fashion: he sent his police troopers out to kill the unarmed demonstrators. Twenty fold murder for Bingu.
Now the DPP government privatised MSB, which is liberal, not socialist or even social democrat. We can have no idea what DPP stands for.
The coalition partner for DPP is UDF. IN name they are a liberal party. In the late 90s and early 2000s they privatized a lot of state enterprises which is definitely liberal: according to liberal views the state should not run enterprises that can be run profitably by the private sector. But if you read the manifesto for the 2014 elections, it looked more like a social democrat manifesto. Maybe they were inspired more by the US idea of liberal (following FD Roosevelt and JM Keynes type ideas) than the British type which is very strongly free market oriented. Now Atupele Muluzi as a government minister is (more or less!) implementing the Malata subsidy (subsidy on construction materials) which is definitely not liberal, it is socialist. Otherwise it’s all quiet on the Atupele front. So he is not implementing liberalism here. What ideas does this person have? We don’t know. For all we know he may not have any ideas of his own.
In this scheme of things you would think the MCP would be conservative (keep things mostly the same), or even reactionary (go back to the situation of the past). Chakwera is often reciting how things used to be better under Banda, but he never gets concrete about how to implement this in the current situation where internationally neo-liberalism has changed the economics so much that Banda type policies will ruin the economy very quickly. And then: how can the spokes person for MCP (Jessie Kabwila) be the feminist she always was, and align herself with a conservative Christian, who has sexist ideas, and strongly opposes choice in the matter of abortion? How can Kabwila, who is a declared follower of Fanon be in line with a person who follows foreign () culture in the form of Evangelical Christianity, while Fanon’s main point is that Africans should follow their own path, rather than try to be like western (white) people? Impossible! This is a strange type of opportunism that will never come to coherent policy? And we have no idea what the party stands for.
None of the three parties has consistent ideas and policies, so we have nothing to vote for. A bad mark for our democracy, and a bad mark for our ruling class.