Demonstrations by the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are basically supposed to be impartial in substance and realistic in nature. Failing these two fundamental tests, they become instruments of self interests, mouthpieces for twisted national media publicity for politicians and forums for stealing public resources for personal gain.
The later point exhibited itself and Malawians were appalled when just a day after April demonstrations, the so called and self-styled leaders were all over the social media, displaying their easy earned holiday spoils in a far away country.
Indeed organizing a demonstration in Malawi is big business. Tax free and lacking in accountability. Its not surprising that with bulging muscles, expensive cars, and meetings in expensive hotels our civil society leaders do claim to champion the cause of the common Malawians.
But why has civil society organized demonstrations rapidly lost currency in Malawi? I have looked at the most usual aspects.
Organization of a social, cultural, economic and political cross-cutting issue has become so partisan that the majority of Malawians have been left with bad taste in the mouth upon realizing that they have been used. It is never a demonstration in Malawi when the leader of opposition does not lead either physically from the front, or in advisory, from the shadows.
CSO leadership has become an undeclared opposition in Malawi. It is basically taking the old role of the opposition parties: negativity and disruption of the government development plans.
Lack of constructive criticism and feedback
There is a certain realisation that without criticism, civil society loses it’s relevance. Relevance including financial support from shadows with covert interests. Oftentimes, civil society has realized that the social media is the working capital. Without the same, it would be dead. Such a realization has led to self outdoing by leadership of how effective one is. With a free Press, it is even a contest of who has the best access.
It is not very surprising that where an issue arises, and to maximize impact and kill the opportunities of others, CSOs are all the time, coalitions. If the original parties agree, others have to toy the line. And as such, the original leadership determines the distribution of resources.
Misrepresentation of issues
The Civil Society Organizations have failed to give proper direction to the masses in Malawi. People have been led to believe that things are in one way, when actually the issues are different from the reality. This has corroded the hard found trust Malawians deposited in the civil society organizations.
Lack of accountability
Civil Society Organizations are now public relations companies, where there is a selected few that are reaping the fruits over and above the interests of the common Malawians. While they fight for equity and equality, they themselves are far from frontier leaders.
The veteran politician, John Tembo, once asked one of the civil society leaders to do self analysis before saying MCP was a regional party.
And today, CSOs have suspended demonstration alluding to competing interests; Malawians are not blind to the fact that there are intrinsic competing interested parties who also want to put on tight T-shirts and fly to far away places like their friends did.
It is the question of either me or nothing. Indeed nothing will be, without something for us. The dog is eating the dog!