Written by PILIRANI PHIRI
The world was prepared to see Osama Bin Laden shake hands with George Bush than seeing Malawi’s main opposition party President John Tembo do the same with his sworn rival Gwanda Chakuamba.
So it was not surprising that hours after Chakuamba had indicated his intention to rejoin Malawi Congress Party on Thursday, Tembo refused saying, “political vagabonds are not welcome in MCP”.
The political hatred of the two is so comical that a Hollywood producer would not hastate to buy the script.
With the presidency a sniff away in 1999, Chakuamba needed the help of Tembo to unseat the UDF but Tembo split the votes when he declared that he would support UDF presidential Dr. Bakili Muluzi.
“Vote for Muluzi as President but on MPs make your own decision,” Tembo used to tell MCP supporters in an attempt to frustrate Chakuamba.
But when the tables turned and Tembo was MCP’s presidential candidate in 2004 and needed Chakuamba more support in the south, Chakuamba hit back.
He resigned when he was needed most and formed his own party, the New Republican Party, until he led an opposition coalition that MCP was never party to.
This coalition split MCP votes and Tembo too failed to secure the presidency. Up to now they blame each other for the lost presidency opportunities.
MCP is now going to convention and many speculate that Chakuamba’s Thursday announcement that he was rejoining MCP was meant to open the doors for him to contest at the indaba.
“A vagabond is never welcomed in MCP, he has his own political party, we [MCP} want members and we have members,” Tembo told reporters Thursday when he rejected Chakuamba.
Their relationship has always been more or less a boy riding on the back of a smiling Tiger – the smile is simply buying time before action.
They are also like Cane and Abel in Jeffery’s Archer’s novel – attracted by destiny, separated by fate.
The two candidates are all in their 80’s, and if they cannot reconcile now ahead of what would probably be their last attempt to rule Malawi, never will they again!