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By Z Allan Ntata

Political vendors abound in our politics. They are motivated by self-interest and will vend anything in exchange for a position. They will tell their leaders the things the leaders want to hear and throw truth and integrity to the dogs. They will promise votes of certain whole constituencies (or even whole districts – which they may not even be able to deliver!). They will claim they can bring traditional leaders such as chiefs and village headmen to the table if they themselves are brought on board. They will even offer to be the official character assassins of the opposition, professing that they will say anything (and oh my! oh my! the things these vendors will say!) for the cause. And many a leader will buy their merchandise- to their peril.

A perceptive observer once said, “Politics creates strange bedfellows”. Political vending is not a new concept at all. It is one perspective from which we can look at the numerous defections that Malawian politics is so famous for.

The serious leader will be wary of making political alliances that are based purely on their self-interest (i.e. the self-interest of both parties in the alliance) and not the interests of the nation. Sooner or later such alliances have a tendency to derail or sabotage national development. The once-close allies will soon demand more territory. They will threaten to reveal a certain campaign secret if they are removed from a position for corruption or incompetence.

They will start quarrels in the party because they serve only themselves. The quarrels will keep the leadership preoccupied with solving internal party wrangling instead of pursuing development projects. They will even break-away and form their own faction or party. They will then make such formidable political opponents and cause so many headaches because they know too much! All this because caution was not exercised when deciding who to please and who to bring onto the team.

There should be many committed, dedicated and patriotic Malawians both in and outside Malawi who would selflessly serve the Malawian cause in the political arena. These should be sought out and invited to join and contribute rather than resorting to spent forces simply because the leaders owe them a favor, or that it would be nice to be owed one. If Malawi is really maturing as a democracy, let that maturity now begin to show.

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