By Nyasa Times editorial
Since winning the by-elections in October last year, the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has been behaving like it is already in government. The party’s youths have been behaving like hysterical rabbits; they are all over the place, and on social media trumpeting the win as a precursor to what they say will be the party’s victory at Malawi’s national polls in 2019.
Chakwera needs to do more introspection than he is currently doing
The by-elections have also not spared its president, Reverend Dr. Lazarus Chakwera. His ego has been so much bloated that he is now behaving like Sate President of the Republic of Malawi. He has gone full throttle throwing his weight around and firing senior members of MCP from their positions relentlessly.
As we are talking, Jessie Kabwila, the party’s former Publicity Secretary and senior member has been fired; the party’s Vice President and Speaker of Parliament, Richard Msowoya has been suspended; Secretary General, Gustav Kaliwo and a host of other senior members of the party have also been suspended, and the scramble for top positions in the party has reached a crescendo.
The party now appears to be jinxed by some kind of a ‘by-election curse’. Instead of building around its victory in the October by-elections to strategize for 2019, MCP appears to have been undone by the same. The party is now steadily plunging into a cesspool of chaos and anarchy with Chakwera as a helpless bystander. The by-elections victory is now only an insignificant blip that is fast receding into the distance.
As if this is not enough for MCP, the London-based Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) has just released a comprehensive intelligence report in which it has predicted a win for the incumbent President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika in 2019. In its ‘Briefing Sheet’ and 2018-2022 outlook for Malawi, EIU observed that despite the challenges that Mutharika and the DPP government are facing, he is still likely going to win in 2019.
As has always been the case, the MCP and the usual culprits whose career is to oppose government have risen to dispute these findings (although without any empirical facts, like what EIU has done). The truth, however, is that the EIU is an evidence-based institution and its report is based on very comprehensive understanding of the situation on the ground and analysis, something that continues to elude the loudmouths in the opposition.
The good thing is also that Malawians are able to know and understand lies when they hear them, and will not be held captive by desperate propaganda under the guise of alternative political voice. Malawians know that President Mutharika inherited an almost poisoned chalice in 2014.
Donors had just pulled out budgetary support which accounted to 40 percent of the country’s national budget because of CASHGATE. There was a huge domestic debt and confidence in government was at an all-time low.
Today, the economy is in positive trajectory and enjoys positive growth despite the country experiencing flooding and other acts of God in 2015 and 2016. Inflation is currently in single digits from 24.2 percent in November 2014, and foreign exchange reserves continue to stabilize as a result of prudent macro-economic balancing by the DPP administration, which has allowed the private sector to import raw materials with ease than it was in the past.
Governance institutions are also bustling and functioning under Peter Mutharika and his government. Infrastructure development continues to spread across all the regions of the country and has been a tell-tale sign that Malawi is indeed turning the corner in terms of development.
President Mutharika has also largely kept his campaign promises. His cabinet still remains at 20, and the much touted promise of establishing at least a technical college per district has been fulfilled.
The Malata Subsidy programme and the civil service reforms are also some of the testimonies that it is possible for a political party to deliver on its campaign promises. Mutharika has also just commissioned the power generators, which are slated to add 55 megawatts to the national grid, as a short term measure as other more long-term measures such as the 300 megawatts Kammwamba thermal plant are being implemented.
Mutharika and the DPP will go down in history as the only President who went out of his way to find a lasting solution to the power black-out woes in Malawi than all the presidents before him combined.
These are some of the developments that have come to define the Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika administration and no amount of political tweaking by Dr. Chakwera can vanquish that.
In fact, the report by EIU is an indication that Malawians are aware of the initiatives that government is implementing and can discern between real economic developments from mere political vanity. The other truth is also that this is a wake-up call for Chakwera and his MCP team from their sustained stupor induced by the by-elections wins in last October.
The EIU report will make Chakwera realize that his approach of opposing everything that the DPP government does; of deliberately seeing only negatives even when there are positives in what government is doing has done more harm to him than he could ever imagined. It will make him realize that the approach will not get him government in 2019 and that he must prepare to be disappointed.
Chakwera needs to do more introspection than he is currently doing. He must ask himself why it is that barely three years after blazing on the political scene with the fanfare of breathing new life into an old and tired political party, it is still the same old story of going three steps forward and five steps backwards? Why is it that after all that ‘rebranding’ efforts, the party of Kamuzu is still steeped in the tired mumbo-jumbo of unity, loyalty, obedience and discipline, the same cornerstones that were used by the notorious MCP’s paramilitary Malawi Young Pioneers (MYP) to commit untold atrocities against innocent Malawians? Why is it that despite the rebranding rhetoric, the party’s youths still find space to roam the streets with stubborn notoriety insulting and beating those who they don’t agree with including destroying drones for journalists?
The EIU report maybe will help Chakwera to know that leadership is much more than just speaking English with an American accent. It would teach the retired reverend that transformational leadership is not fearful of dissent in views and opinions. In fact, transformational leadership celebrates dissent because a true leader is enriched with alternative viewpoints.
The report would teach Dr. Chakwera that leadership is about holding the boat together and not purging people with alternative views under the banner of ‘Nkholokolo’. The report would help Chakwera realize that he who thinks he is leading but has no one following him is only taking a walk, and that there is a lot that MCP as a party must do in order to be accepted again by Malawians as an outfit ready to govern this country.
Someone said MCP suffers from a curse that makes it plunge into furious internal bickering every time this country is about to hold general elections. It appears Chakwera is just another ordinary leader whose leadership has once again failed to remove that curse