The triumph of people power in Malawi | TheHill

The triumph of people power in Malawi | TheHill

“History takes a long time, and it’s not kind to those who push it.” As a student of foreign affairs and African studies, I heard such sentiment expressed often by those who fought against the Apartheid regime, South Africa’s institutionalized system of racial segregation. That system ultimately collapsed, and gave way to one of the greatest political triumphs of the 20th century, April 26, 1994, when former political prisoner Nelson Mandela was elected president of a multi-racial, post-Apartheid South Africa. Like a haunting melody, words of undeniable truth can remain in the recesses of your mind for years, until something awakens them. So it was for me last week, when Malawi’s unified opposition claimed the presidency in an historic presidential re-run. “Increasingly power has shifted to the people,” said former president Joyce Banda. “Malawians are demanding accountability, transparency and respect for human rights and rule of law. Any leader who thinks they can be autocratic and abuse their people with impunity is doing so at their own peril.” Malawi is a Southern African nation of 18 million with a majority of its population surviving on subsistence farming, and whose presidency had been a family affair for the past decade, made possible by weak institutions, official corruption, and the heavy-handed use of security forces — a formula that continues to bolster African authoritarian leaders in places like Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Uganda, Zambia and elsewhere. Unlike the white-on-black degradation of Apartheid that mobilized a movement of global outrage, this type of governing abuse has not been ...
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