In Malawi, perhaps more than in other countries in the world, we passionately protect our democracy, perhaps it is because we fought so hard to achieve this democracy we have now.
Democracy means a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, who are involved in making decisions about its affairs, typically by voting to elect representatives to a Parliament or any assembly.
When someone has been elected by the people, they put all trust in that person in the way that he or she will take their grievances to the required people and uphold the law and the constitution of the country.
Therefore in a Democratic world, no one is supposed to be either above or below the law.
Of course the reality is that the rich and powerful in our democratic world are often above the law and the poor are always beneath it. But the fact that the reality of our democracy often fails to live up to its promise, it doesn’t change the fact that in our Democratic order we are all explicitly committed to a constitutional order that protects the life of everyone.
In democracy, we all share equal rights despite the position you are holding in the government. Laws were made to protect and to be respected by everyone.
When the powerful try to act above the law and suppress the vulnerable like street traders, disabled, the poor and so on, as if they are below the law, we have a set of rules to call people to account.
It is deeply shocking to see those people who elected someone to represent them in the parliament suffering from all sorts of hardships while their leaders are enjoying their slice of bread. The poor are always singing songs of democracy but they end up yielding nothing.
Is this the democracy we were crying for..? I don’t think so.
Our democratic laws favours the rich who squander government resources in the name of their positions and forget those who were standing in long queues to cast that important vote so that may be their efforts will somehow change their lives.
Despite all its flaws, the poor still cherish this democracy thinking that it might one day help and protect them.
If we want to protect our democracy, it requires all kinds of people, the unpaid, the leaders and the poor. It also requires the integrity of our institutions to be protected as one of our highest priorities.
Media is also essential to the building of a modern and Democratic nation. It is the space where we develop a shared sense of who we are, what matters to us and what the rules of engagement are. It is also the space that enables elites to be called to account and for the public to be able to get more information on political choices.
Lastly; if we are serious about defending our democracy from the enemies within, we need to be very serious about protecting our institutions. We also need to take to account those who plunder government resources for their own political gain.
Together we can protect our democracy.