Malawi 2014 Elections: a Missed Opportunity for Muslims

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Atupele Muluzi (right): Muslims betrayed him

On May 20 this year, Malawians went into the polls to elect their president, member of parliament and a councillor.

Unlike other past elections, this year’s elections have really been a “game changer.”

Like citizens of this country, Muslims too, took part in the elections which though have been marred by several challenges.

To the dismay, Muslims’ preferred candidates didn’t make it. This is because they went into the polls divided.

Some wanted to vote for Atupele Muluzi who was the only Muslim candidate while others opted for outgoing President Joyce Banda who was described as “too close” to Muslims and because she is a Yao, the tribe which comprises 95 percent of Muslims.

Those who opted for Joyce Banda argued that if a Muslim wins, it would have been difficult for Muslims to benefit as it happened during the country’s first multi-party democracy president Dr Bakili Muluzi who is a Muslim.

During his regime, Muluzi was under intense pressure as the time he tried to develop the Muslim community people of other denominations accused him of wanting to Islamise the country. This is the scenario which people feared and left Atupele for JB.

Those who supported Atupele argued that they couldn’t vote for JB because she is a woman and Islam prohibits women to be leaders in front of men. They also argued that Atupele was the only Muslim candidate hence Muslims had to join his “Agenda for change.”

President Banda: was also a Muslim favourite
President Banda: was also a Muslim favourite

Unfortunately, this didn’t help either as both two had the same strongholds and ended up splitting the votes thereby giving a chance to other candidates.

Lack of this unity and mutual understanding, the community ended wasting votes of about 3 million registered Muslims. At the end, the country witnessed winning of another candidate whom Muslims didn’t expect.

Unlike their counterparts of other denominations, Muslims decision was made on who is leading the party and which one has more Muslims.

For example, United Democratic Front (UDF), a party which was founded and still currently led by a Muslim, was against anyone representing other parties without considering whether the candidate is a Muslim or not.

It preferred supporting candidates of other denominations saying because they have been loyal to the party and leave Muslims whom some of them were new so couldn’t be trusted.

As for JB’s People’s Party, the problem was the same. Those Muslims who were already in the party didn’t want to help the newbies. Being in government, they had all the chances to be able to help their friends but they didn’t.

Because of this, we have seen low Muslim representation in the August House as most Muslims failed miserably. Some lacked both financial and material support from the party.

Some of the old gurus also failed to make it, Allah punished them.

This is in contrast with other denominations who supported all their church members regardless of which party they belong to. They organised a series of meeting, gave them both financial and material support and they didn’t sleep making sure that at least half of the member parliaments should be members of their church. This is not for law makers only, they did for the presidential candidate too.

Sadly, as our friends were doing this, Muslims were busy pointing fingers on each other to the extent of closing the office of Muslim Association of Malawi accusing it of being partisan.

As our friends made special khutbas (sermon) to tell their members which candidate they should vote for, Muslims were busy distributing pamphlets and letters lobbying people to force the MAM National Chairman to resign – what a sick society!

The most painful thing though is that those who represented the Muslim community in the outgoing government didn’t also take opportunity to assist their fellow Muslims by fielding them in some important government portfolios despite being in influential positions.

Currently, the Muslim community has well educated Muslims specialised in different fields but they are not exposed hence difficult to penetrate in government.

Now that the elections are over, Muslims have to think of a lot of things and strategise who do they want to be in 2019’s elections.

Unity is the first thing to consider. Muslims should be united and be focused. This is not time to force someone to belong to a certain party rather think of how many Muslims should we put in each political party in the country so that we have a reasonable representation in the Parliament.

A task force should be set and its first assignment is to get the names of the Muslims who have failed to make it this this year and add others to the list so that there are at least five Muslims in each party and in each district.

The task force should also be responsible for sourcing funds to support those candidates in subsequent elections.

Nonetheless, these elections have been a missed opportunity for Muslims because of being short sighted.

Views expressed in this article are solely for the author and do not represent those of this website nor its editorial staff

6 COMMENTS

  1. Indeed, this is time for muslim ummah in Malawi to reflect and strategise. We need to instil in our hearts love and political tolerance, we chose as a country multi party system of government in 1993 and knowing that we were busy pointing fingers at each other while kuffaar were planning. Whi is going to represent us in the next government (influential position) to present/ represent our interests or protect our interests at a policy formulating platforms? We are no 3 or 4 as per article above. We Ulamas are in support of the iidea of a task force as sugested above. Let’s strategise and unite (unity of purpose). United we stand devided we fall ” ولا تنازعواا فتقشلوا وتذهب ريحكم …… “. Sh Cassim Chongolo – Secretary General – Council of Ulama

  2. as much as i agree with the taskforce suggestion.but i still beg to differ with this article in the sense that it is coming after all is said and done.my point of reference could be did you at any point publish an article to highlight Muslim voters to go by this? if not y now? my answer is as good as yours.u have already aluded that some churches advised their followers whom to vote for but as Muslim official website wat did u do to your part to sensitive pipo? am sure you was also busy publishing the rangles between Muslims so that the whole country should no about it.lastly lets be present and future and not the past come may 2019 we can make it

  3. My comment is that when muslims are put in these positions they become selfish. They dont want to uplift fellow muslims in different ways e.g. supporting muslim activities, encouraging muslim boys and girls to take education seriously by meeting them in schools. Donate items to assist them in their schools where possible.When they are in the office, they can hardly attend to you, let alone say Salaam-Alaykum. We are a bunch of selfish people except for a few the likes of Sadick Mia who could assist during ijtimah and other functions.

  4. The problem with Muslims is that they seem to lack confidence in themselves first, then, second, those who would have got the chance, positioned themselves with parties they perceived would best serve their personal interests. Simply put, they went into it for their stomachs and not on ideological ground. Kudya basi.

  5. To whoever feels that this website focuses on Muslims , please be advised that it is indeed our wish that we mainly focus on Muslims as we have done in uplifting their lives , socially, economically as well as politically. To all my fellow readers, they may agree with me that the website has been running articles with different titles one of it being Road to 2014 AND THE DISUNITED MALAWI MUSLIMS etc
    Let me also caution whoever goes out of bounds especially those regarded as public figures that whenever they do anything unconstitutional then that will be swept under the carpet just because you are a Muslim then forget.

  6. Let me ask the author what he is trying to mean when he says Atupee was a muslim candidate? Is it because he is frm Yao tribe? in 2005 – 9, were there no muslims? The reasns outlined being the subjects to failure cant heal the sores if solved. The poblem originates from grassroot level. In Islam we dont have good management. We have leades who are good at consuming and not producing. We respect tribal brtherhood than reigious brotherhood. there is no merit when chosing leadership. Islam doesnt recognise any tribe but the fear of Allah. (Inna akramkum i’da Allah atkaakum). Its unfrtunate that the author is refering past eections thinking things will be the same – lack of evaluation. Do you think people have forgotten that they were tjhe very same people who betrayed Prince Sultan with his friends – people who came with different devepmental projects. Is it not Bingu who protected our muslim brother Omar Albashir with recognition of afrcan brotherhood? Yet thse wh claim to be musims forgot the power of isamic brotherhod. Injustice and inequality is the source of this tragedy. Furthermore, look at how we are running our institutions. Can we cmpare ours with thse f our friends? make a research. The basphamy has just began.

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