Can China offer a real alternative to liberal democracy?

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All of us together: Governing Malawi

Malawi flag pennants
Editor's note:

Below is a Viewpoint from Chapter 6 of the Foresight Africa 2021 report, which explores top priorities for the region in the coming year. This year’s issue focuses on strategies for Africa to confront the twin health and economic crises created by the COVID-19 pandemic and emerge stronger than ever. Read the full chapter on good governance.

Foresight Africa 2021When I took the oath of office as Malawi’s newly elected president on June 29, 2020, I was fully aware that I may very well be the last member of my generation to hold the office of president in my country. I felt the unique burden that destiny had placed upon me of transferring the task of nation-building from my pre-independence generation to a rising generation of Malawians born free. To put this within its historical context, Malawi’s founders completed the task of national liberation in the 1960s, their sons and daughters achieved political liberation in the 1990s, and now what remains is the goal of economic liberation.

The goal of economic liberation has been elusive for many years, largely because we have had one administration after another shifting its post to the next election. What’s worse, leaders from my generation have not only left our homeland unbuilt, but also in ruins. In clearing this rubble, we must not point fingers at a particular section of our society as the only ones responsible. We are each in some way part of the problem and must each in some way be part of the solution.

It is this sense of shared responsibility for our problems and shared participation in the solutions that characterizes our administration. We are united in the conviction that there can be no new Malawi if the only people deemed guilty of ruining our country in the past are those who lost the recent election, or if the only people deemed responsible for fixing our country going forward are those of us who won the election. This is the bedrock of what we have come to call the “Tonse Philosophy” that guides our “Tonse Alliance” of nine parties, so named to capture the essence of the vernacular word “Tonse,” which means “all of us together.”

To practice this philosophy, we are facilitating a nationwide mindset change dialogue to foster behavioral synergy around five core values we have dubbed the SUPER Hi5 Agenda: Servant Leadership; Uniting Malawians; Prospering Together; Ending Corruption; and the Rule of Law. All our policies are guided by this template, including our approach to foreign policy and our strategy for attracting foreign direct investment, so that it can now be said with sincerity that Malawi is the most robust and stable democracy in Africa and the best place to do business.

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