By John Dereck Kathumba
When it comes to political strategy and organization, we read and hear of different names in our country as top-notch strategists—I think you have ever heard of such names as Bright Malopa, Allan Ntata, Brian Bowler, Dr Ben Phiri as one of the tried and proven political strategists and organizers of the soil.
In fact stories are told of how effective the combination of strategist Malopa, Ntata, Sawerengera etc as commanded by the Strategist-In-Chief, Brian Bowler was to the landslide victory of late Bingu Wa Mutharika during 2009 elections.
When Peter Mutharika came into the picture after the death of his elder brother —stories are also told on how Ben ‘Kagame’ Phiri proved his dexterity in as far as political organization and strategy is concerned.
Nevertheless, we still hear that Bowler and Malopa were also in the thick of things making one of the best political strategies which helped to propel DPP into power from opposition benches. Though some DPP gurus try to downplay the reality, it remains unimpeachable up to date that Ntata was also part of the team scheming day and night to push DPP into power though he was sadly dumped after the kill.
But this article is not about these folks who helped to bring this non-performer President Peter Mutharika in power, no, this article is about a female political warrior who is also proving her mettle in as far as political maneuvering and strategy is concerned. Abida Mia—wife to Lower Shire Political Giant, Sidik Mia, is the character under microscope in this article.
I got interest to conduct a mini-research of ‘adona’ (Madam) as Mrs Mia is fondly called among the foot-soldiers she commands, when I went through the parliamentary hazards on the maiden speeches from Honorable Ulemu Msungama of Lilongwe City South East and Honorable Lawrence Sitolo of Nsanje Lalanje Constituency during the last sitting of Parliament.
Verbatim, this is an extract of what Hon Lawrence Sitolo said in his first ever speech in parley.
“In another special way, Mr Speaker, Sir, allow me to express my profound thanks to Mbuya Honorable Muhammed Sidik Mia and Madame Abida Mia for playing a very remarkable role to my victory.
Enter Hon Ulemu Msungama, this is part of what he said in his speech.
“In a very Special way, let me appreciate the giant of the lower Shire, the hero, Mr. Ichocho, Mbuya Sidik Mia and Madam Mia for being there for me when I most needed help. Even at the lowest moments, when times were hard, this man would drive all the way from Chikwawa just to help Lilongwe South East get what it truly deserved.”
As someone curious to understand things, the mention of Mrs Mia in both speeches aroused my interest. In other words, thus using research language, the mentions kind of gave me a ‘problem statement’ worthy pursuing to seek clear understanding.
The questions I posed to myself were: Was this lady—Madam Mia—mentioned in these important speeches because of her being wife to Hon Sidik Mia? If it was the case, then why did these honorable lawmakers also not mention names of spouses of the other key figures they recognized to have played a role in their victory?
The response to the second question was that Madam Mia must have done something worthy such recognition. The follow up question was then, what could be that thing that has earned her such recognition?
Were these valid mini-research questions? I think they are! Read on!
The Political Warrior Leading from the Front
The sample I asked these questions agreed on one thing that Madam Abida Mia is a political warrior leading from the front. They said she is an excellent organizer and her hand is always there even when she is not physically available at a given particular function.
They told me that her great skills lie in the way she organizes political activities. It was noted that to organize a political meeting is an involving exercise. To put things together to ensure that the rally is well attended, to ensure that even the stage is well prepared, to ensure that people at the rally are well taken care of, I was told, is not a simple thing to do.
Apart from say, financial resources, I was also told that it requires great skill to organize such stuff. It was then revealed that this is where Madam Mia comes in. She works directly with the front-troops who organizes stuff to make sure that those seniors coming to address the rally or meeting find everything in order.
‘She might not necessary be at the venue but you see her hand in what is happening that side—she coordinates things like no one else,” said a source who at some point worked with her.
“In case you have attended major rallies since Mia joined MCP or perhaps watched such rallies on TV, the end product of what you see, the colorful stage you see and in fact the logistics associated with political rallies is mostly championed by her, she is a great asset in that regard I tell you,” collaborated another source.
“You want to genuinely know unsung heroes of MCP—those unknown people but are doing a fantastic job in promoting MCP—then ask Madam Mia, she works with such people around the clock,” chipped another source emphasizing how skilled she is to work with all and sundry.
Another source gave an interesting perspective.
“She is that kind of a person who rewards those who are doing a good job and encourages those who are lagging behind,” observing that ‘she is much liked because she works on the ground with the people almost 24/7.”
Another source challenged me to ask any other person who might have ever worked with her, ranging from party officials, at both local as well as national level, media people, etc that they will agree with sentiments of how great a ground political warrior she is and this source was therefore not surprised to note that people like Honorable Msungama and Honorable Sitolo gave her a special mention in their speeches in Parliament.
“She deserves it for her capabilities! She is fantastic,” continued this source before concluding that “She is blessed when it comes to crafting both business as well as political strategies,” adding that “Hon Sidik Mia is a lucky person to have Madam Mia by his side. She makes things happen!”
To render credit to all the responses from my sources is a notorious ruling DPP ‘pseudo-name’ cadet Raymond Chikoko, whom in one of his MCP insulting posts, made a rare U-turn and wrote praises of how great Madam Mia is when it comes to motivating foot-soldiers under her command.
In a country where we lack women who can meaningfully participate in politics, it is relieving to see such women as Madam Mia filling such a gap as evidenced by the two MP’s own admission that she played a ‘remarkable’ role to their success. And on the road to 2019 elections, one could only hope that more Madam Mia’s will come out of MCP and do whatever they can to help their party dislodge the DPP misfortune that befell mother Malawi in 2014.
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