More of the Same?

We saw of late how succeeding political parties in power failed those who voted for them. Once in power, governments had their own agendas to pursue, not exactly matching promises they had made during the electoral campaigns. This agenda proved to be more self-serving than for the advancement of the nation as a whole.

The May 1st rallies held by the MMM, on the one side, and the MSM-ML, on the other, needed to be watched to see if the political landscape would change for something better. This was because the MMM was having its first major encounter with voters after its severe defeat in 2014. How was it planning to engage on an alternative self-correcting path?

The MSM-ML alliance, on its part, had to demonstrate whether after all the things badly done since 2015, it was collecting itself enough so as to present a better balance sheet at the end of its mandate two and a half years down the road. Were the reins of the alliance in better informed hands now after the change of Prime Minister?

In a sort, the MMM presented its mea culpa to voters, stating that it would go alone to the next polls and that the party’s leader would present himself as the Prime Minister to be. Paul Bérenger said in the same breath that the “best government” there has been was that of 2000-05, when it was in alliance with the MSM. So, it was not ruling out, it seems, a future alliance with a reformatted MSM.

On its part, the MSM-ML rally was an occasion for the ML leader to point out that there was great cohesion between his party and the MSM in government action. In other words, things were moving on smoothly enough for not contemplating a schism between the two partners in government or thinking about alternative political alliances.

As for the MSM leader and newly-appointed Prime Minister, he emphasized the brighter economic picture starting to emerge now, with indications that unemployment was now on a declining course and FDI was on the increase once again. In other words, he said there were good prospects of economic improvement in time to come. He also stated that his government was grappling firmly with the scourge of drug trafficking and that one should expect good outcomes on this front. While deprecating the Labour Party and the PMSD, he made no statement as to any future political alliance.

What does all this leave us with? Will we see the customary bi-polarisation of voters we’ve been seeing for decades now among them? If so, should we expect the same type of power-sharing alliances which have, more often than not, pushed to the foreground interests of individual political parties and their leaders and relegated to the background those of the country in the face of so many external vicissitudes? Will voters continue with the same old dichotomy of partisan support that has brought non-performing leaders and their cronies to the front stage?

Voters have been seeking a departure from this frustrating oft-repeated scenario in which, post elections, they realise and start to regret that they have made the wrong choices, in view of the narrow pursuits of governments they’ve vested with power. They have had enough of politicians perverting national public institutions for parochial pursuits and ending up breaking the springs of the economy.

Many have been asking for another way of doing politics that will also not be ethnically centred. Unfortunately, it has proved impossible to overtake the strait jackets in which politicians have been keeping voters. As a consequence, it has proved impossible to renew the governing establishment. Except for a brief departure from the classic mould most voters have been beguiled by career politicians, who habitually play the card of fear of the ‘other’ to their constituencies, which fear the latter have been unable to banish from their guts when they face the ballot box. This has prevented the emergence of any alternative credible force intending to run the business of the country from an altogether different and more comprehensive national perspective devoid of the polarisation discourse.

So, the May 1st rallies did not bring any new hope of political renewal from a truly national perspective. There was a re-hash of the same old stuff, establishment politicians asking voters to renew their confidence in them and aspiring politicians finding fault with those they hope to replace at the next electoral appointment.

But, behind the harsh criticism of each other by the two main blocs participating in the rallies of May 1st, it is also possible that the stiff bargaining for another political alliance has begun. Will it throw out the numerous incompetents who have invaded the front stage of local politics since the elections of 2014? Not many voters will disagree with the idea of having a cleaner and fresher team looking after the affairs of the country after all the frustration we’ve been through for long. A lot of convincing will be required before we evolve politically to this higher stage. The risk is that there’ll always be some who might undo any move in this direction by re-igniting polarisations that have kept clouding our vision for decades, to the point of making us oblivious to the real challenges facing the country in the modern world.

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