Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Back home, same old political issues.

How time truly flies! It is already more than a month since I landed back in good old Malawi. As always, it is great to be back home, to meet old friends, family etc. Life at home is the same, attending this wedding and that; this funeral; a couple of workshops and more.

On the political front, I must say it is much better to see the reality on the ground, which I have to admit, is less gloomy than the picture we get on Nyasatimes from the diaspora. I recall a recent e-mail discussion before I left the US that I had had with my good friend and contributor on Malawi to Africa Confidential, Nick Wright. While I expressed worry about the developments on Malawi as reported in the media, Nick pointed out that he also gets the same feeling but when he travels to Malawi, always finds the reality to be different.

What this suggests is that the news that filters through to our brothers and sisters in the disaspora is usually gloomier than the situation on the ground. Yes, we are afflicted with our fair share of political problems, but these are nothing new and pale in comparison to the situation in Zimbabwe for instance.

I mean the current jostling between the government and the opposition in and outside Parliament is not itself new. Take the following paragraph from a paper I presented to the Norwegian Embassy on July 9th, 2005, a good three years ago, to illustrate my point:

"…Political tension abounds that threatens to spiral out of control… deliberations in the National Assembly convey a picture of a house out of control. The main protagonists – the government and the opposition- meanwhile continue to spurn all efforts at reconciliation. The wider public is getting restless and has already showed displeasure at the current political developments by organizing street demonstrations. Not surprisingly, donors have been jittery and the future is uncertain."

Does that sound familiar? Well, what I wrote in 2005 remains true today, but for the fact that the tension never spiralled out of control, even if a solution is yet to be found. What I can say then is that the current political wrangles in Malawi are nothing new and we should perhaps not be too pessimistic about the future.