"It's shameful that the UDF party wants to take us back to the dark days,"

Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Catalysts of infighting is politicians who only have personal goals to achieve at the expense of the common good.

The High Court sentencing Wednesday of UDF regional secretary McDonald Symon on sedition is a wake up call to politicians who have loose mouths. In Malawi, politicians think and believe that their mettle is in speech and careless speech.

The sentencing of Symon to nine months imprisonment has sent warning signals to those who think and believe that the political podium has infinity of freedom of speech and expression. For such people the ruling Wednesday must have reminded them that any freedom or right is accompanied by responsibility. We hope the lessons are straightforward and all politicians will take a cue from them.

However, we would like to cite examples of evils that emanate from politicians’ careless and unguarded speech. Almost all countries that have experienced civil war, the catalysts of such infighting have been politicians who only have personal goals to achieve at the expense of the common good.

Although Malawi is never short of politicians who speak like they are possessed by evil spirits, as a country we are just lucky that the seeds of hatred they sow in the process have not gone to the extent of civil wars. We just have to thank God because some hate speeches we have heard in the past 12 years of multiparty democracy had all the ingredients of civil war.

This though does not mean some innocent people have not paid dearly due to such unguarded speeches. The young democrats that Symon wanted, 4000 from each of the 193 constituencies, were notorious for beating up people with dissenting views to those of their political masters. The wrath of the young democrats still remains vivid today, two years after they were trimmed to size by the Bingu wa Mutharika administration. As such, mobilising such thugs, no matter how well intended the task might be, they can certainly become a loose canon.

On a minimal scale, the present political stand off between opposition parties and government is a product of hate speech from politicians in the two camps. In case our politicians do not know, politics can be practised in a civilised way by engaging in constructive dialogue. Our politicians should be ashamed for lending weight to the belief that politics is a dirty game hence the players have to be dirty. But we all know that there are living examples of modern democracies where politicians unite people instead of sowing seeds of division between differing camps. This is the brand of politics we want in Malawi.

The belief that politicians are as strong as their careless speech has no room in this day and age. We need a brand of politicians who get to the political podium to preach peace, development and all what stands for good. It is only then that people will begin to respect politicians and remove the mentality that there is a dirty game.

Yes, Symon has been convicted for careless talk on the political podium but there are many out there who still believe they can be counted among the best through hate talk. To them we say now is the time to think twice before the long hand of the law catches up with you.

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