If we’re to compare newspapers, The Daily Times and The Nation newspapers would be to Malawi what the Washing Post and New York Times are to the US. They’re very independent and well respected.

But unlike their American counterparts, the two Malawian papers both have Achilles’ heels. Whereas American papers endorse candidates on their front pages, Malawian ones don’t. Instead, their columnists advise voters to go and vote wisely.

On the face of it, it sounds like pretty good advice, doesn’t it? But if you think it over for a minute, you’ll realise, it’s pretty useless advice.

Let me ask you, how does a voter know which choice is a wise vote? It isn’t as if the path to a wise vote is marked with closely spaced road signs displaying big and bold direction arrows. Besides, isn’t it a given that a choice that may be deemed wise by one voter may be anathema to another?

The voters need to be nudged, pushed even, towards the said wise vote.  Now who better than the media to light the paths to hidden wise choices? Otherwise, how are voters on their own expected to sift through all the candidates’ rhetoric, outright lies, stand-up comedy routines, vitriolic slander and other garbage that pass for campaign speeches just to find a wise choice?

Perhaps, I shouldn’t be too quick to condemn. After all, I know they’re afraid. Very afraid. And for a good reason. You see, they’ve seen many businesses collapse a year or so after supporting the wrong horses. In Malawi, businesses that align themselves with a candidate that happens to be on the wrong side of winning risks missing out on government contracts. Malawian politicians are very vindictive, you know.

You don’t need me to explain that in an economy like ours, any entity starved of government business finds the going very tough. Thus, until Malawi has media houses that are prepared to tough it out, we’ll continue being advised to vote wisely.

I, on the other hand, I’m not running any business so I’ve no fear whatsoever in endorsing…er… Mmm… I’ve thought better of it. My endorsement would be misinterpreted as campaigning when the campaigning period is already over. That aside, there are other factors besides business that would be at stake here.

So instead , I’ll just urge all Malawians currently resident in Malawi to go and cast their votes tomorrow. But in keeping with the culture of doling out useless voting advice, I would like to advise you to go and vote wisely!

Whatever that means.

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    The Three Little Hills (Phiris)