Written by Patseni Mauka
According to Malawi News, on December 30 2018, President Peter Mutharika held talks with United Democratic Front (UDF) leader Atupele Muluzi to work out an election alliance in the tripartite elections in May this year. This is not the first time this has been reported. A few weeks ago, I analyzed this possible election alliance. I looked at what each of the parties might be secretly planning to benefit from the possible alliance.
Since coming a distant fourth in the 2014 elections, Atupele Muluzi has not said much about his ambition to be President of Malawi. He has been quietly loyal to corrupt Mutharika and learning the trade of governing in different government portfolios. But he has not dumped his presidential ambitions and will never do. His father, Bakili Muluzi, aged 74, has the ambition to one day see his son as President. A self appointed ‘political engineer’, senior Muluzi will do anything to see this goal achieved.
It wouldn’t be surprising that one of the contentious issues on the discussions is that Atupele wants to be running mate to Mutharika. It’s the only guaranteed deal for UDF. Anything else would not be guaranteed. Not even the second vice presidency. Like I have said before, if he succeeds, it would be an opportunity for UDF to come back to power in the unlikely event that God decides to recall the old and frail Mutharika while in office. This is the senior Muluzi’s greatest wish, to see his son become President and UDF back in power.
DPP on the other hand, just wants to retain power by hook or crook. UDF would be foolish to take DPP’s promises seriously. DPP and UDF are greatest political foes pretending to work together but each one secretly wishing to eliminate the other. That’s why they don’t trust each other and the alliance talks have been taking place for a long time without reaching an agreement.
Only time will tell whether DPP and UDF will work together in this year’s elections. However, the long talks reveal the fact that these parties are seeking an alliance because they know they can’t win the elections on their own. This is normal in politics but surprising to many who have heard DPP’s bluff that it’s popular enough to win with a landslide.
Some of us are not surprised. DPP will find it very hard to win elections alone because it’s popularity has been on the decline since 2009. DPP was formed with it’s founder, late Bingu Wa Mutharika, already a president. Bingu used UDF to get into government before dumping it to form DPP. After a brilliant performance in his first term, Malawians rewarded him with 66% of the vote in the 2009 general elections.
By the time Bingu died in office, DPP’s popularity was already on the decline due many social and political grievances. Luckily for DPP, the caretaker government of People’s Party (PP) blundered too much and Malawians sought refuge in DPP again. But DPP won by an embarrassing 36% in 2014. In other words, 64% of the voters didn’t want DPP back in government. In 2017, it’s support dwindled to 27% according to a research by Afrobarometer.
A poll conducted by Malawi Institute of Public Opinion Research (IPOR) showed that in August, 2018, 33% of the respondents identified with DPP ahead of MCP(31%) and UTM(17%). This was one month after UTM’s launch and clear evidence of a change of the Malawian political landscape.
You would think that paid DPP analysts would know that all these figures and the alliance talks between DPP and UDF shows they can’t declare victory now, let alone a landslide one. But typical of people who feel highly of themselves, ali yaviyavi kutumbwa. It’s hilarious to watch. They say they will win with a landslide but secretly know that ndeu idakalipo. DPP knows it can’t win elections without an alliance.