I love our country, but I must confess that my love for political parties is waxing cold. It is becoming clear to me that the reason the country is failing to develop, 51 years after our so-called independence, is that when MCP was in power, it brainwashed the Malawian mind into thinking that loyalty to a political party equals patriotism. Many Malawians turn their political party into their religion, and in the process true patriotism in Malawi is a rare commodity. The Malawian’s definition of patriotism is patriotism to the party.

From what I have seen, It is paramount and more important to be seen to have loyalty to the party, and not loyalty to the country and concern for what is good for the country. Party members and supporters value party colours and logos more than they value the Black, the Red and the Green. When leaders and politicians wax eloquent about love of country, and accuse others of not loving their country, what they really mean is love of the party- whether that is DPP, MCP, PP or UDF or whatever party they belong to. When issues come up, when leadership decisions need to be made, concern for the country is not what drives them, but what is good for their party and their supporters, even if what is proposed is not good for the country.

It is for this reason that I have become independent, and have the freedom to speak for whoever is willing to take unpopular stands for the common good of us all.

If a politician shows loyalty only to a party and not the country, then we must speak against them, expose their greed and selfish motive and ensure that they are voted out in the very next election. Love of country is a virtue, and our vote has to make a difference. Patriotism is not party (or party leader) worship. It is not a religion. It is not even about being a member of a political party at all.

Patriotism is the passionate belief and willingness to fight in defence of our country’s norms, beliefs and interests; the desire to fight upholding Malawian unity and the desire to see it grow stronger and more prosperous. Patriotism is not about political personalities, does not mind about tribes or places of origin, ethnic beliefs or even politics in general. High spirited patriotism is about loyalty to country, integrity, self-sacrifice and having the courage to defend one’s country and its people against all enemies. (In the current Malawian situation, I can’t think of a bigger enemy than corruption)

It is sad that blind loyalty to political parties is becoming the very obstacle that is preventing Malawi from moving forward.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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