By James Tsegula
A lot has been said on the issue ignited by Callista Muthalika that Dr. Saulos Chilima should be the DPP`s torch bearer in the 2019 presidential elections. There have been mixed opinions on the issue on social media where a lot of the people who wrote, favored the Veep.
Allow me to put forward my opinion based on analyzing the feedback from social media, Malawi`s voting trends and a bit of psychology. My opinion is that the events surrounding the candidature of the Veep in Democratic progressive Party (DPP) will lead to his downfall if it is allowed to go on, and possibly increase the chances of Atupele Muluzi to rise on the political ladder.
Chilima as DPP president
Judging from the comments on the social media and the people who have spoken on the issue, there seem to be a collective feeling that Saulos is likely to win the election if he uses DPP machinery. It is believed by many that combining the votes from the people who like Chilima style from other parties and that of DPP fans, he will surely win the election without much struggle.
However, let us look at the possibility of Chilima becoming DPP president. I personally feel that Chilima had more chances of becoming DPP president before Callista`s movement than after. The way the issue has been handled, it divides DPP more and this does not work in his favour.
Psychologically, the praises that Saulos has received in the past few days will not be a rosy thing to Peter and DPP loyalists even though they cannot admit it. It is human nature. The gap that callista and others are creating between APM & SKC will make APM and some DPP loyalists to look for ways to make him unpopular. Obviously, they will do anything possible to make sure that he does not become DPPs president. This will also increase the chances of the Veep to be left out as a running mate. The big question is what will happen next.
Obviously, if Chilima contest as an independent candidate or form his party now, he will get a lot of votes in the 2019 polls, but not enough to beat MCP and DPP, not even UDF if it goes alone to the polls. Thus Chilima will be out of picture for about 5 years, and this will reduce his morale from the public. He will join the likes of Chimunthu and malewezi.
On the other hand, DPP will opt for Atupule to get votes from the eastern region which will guarantee them a win whether they go with APM or not. APM is likely not to finish his second term due to age and health issues and Atupele becomes Malawi President.
Trust me, if Atupele rises to President or Veep, it will be difficult to remove him. He will use all means necessary to remain in power. That means Saulos will remain out of picture for at least 15 years. This will be the end of his political career surely.
Chilima as DPP (APM or whoever) running mate
If Chilima is considered to be running mate in the 2019 polls, he is likely to become Malawi`s president for more than 10 years. As I said, Peter is likely not to complete his second term if he wins. Then Chilima becomes president and no doubt two other terms on top will follow.
But the likelihood of Chilima becoming DPP Veep and running mate with what Callista has initiated is as weak as him becoming president of DPP itself. The move is dividing the party even though the DPP NEC members are denying, but people in DPP have divided minds. Others for Chilima in 2019, Others for Chilima in 2024, and still others will say no Chilima at all.
These divisions may compromise his chances of being a DPP running mate, his only ticket to presidency. Another factor is the DPP top members perception of Chilima. From the comments from the social media, they will increasingly become resistant to his rise for fear of dismantling the DPP one day. The view that Chilima is likely to form his own party soon after winning on DPP ticket is shared by many in DPP and they might not allow that to happen.
Some say that these DPP top members are stealing from the government and the rise of Chilima will make them exposed and arrested. That is a correct observation and the exact same reason that Chilima will not be recommended for DPP running mate or President. Why would they allow Chilima to use its machinery and rise to power so that he deals with them? These people will convince Peter to drop Saulos as running mate. The option will go to Atupele for the eastern region vote. As I said the rise of Atupele is not a good thing to Saulos`s political career.
Pressure from the media
It is a fact that Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) favours DPP and Times Group (TV, Radion and newspapers) favours opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP). The reason that Times and other media stations are escalating the issue is not to see Chilima president of DPP, but rather to steer things up in DPP and divide them and in the end give chance to MCP.
Times and the other media houses supporting the movement knows as much as we all do that Chilima and a united DPP with Atupele running mate is a landslide for DPP and MCP out of picture for another 10 years. Are you sure that is what MCP and times want? Times and MCP are playing a mind game here, they want to use the situation to increase the cracks in DPP so that every president that they opt to feature will receive resistance from within.
The block for Chilima in DPP will chose not to vote for APM if he insist of seeking reelection and vice versa. If this happens, it is MCP with a big chance to win the election. Callista`s movement, if allowed to continue, is likely to make any DPP candidate face resistance from within and give chance to UDF or MCP. If UDF or MCP takes government, Saulos being in opposition for 10 years is not a good thing. That the end of his political career. UDF is likely to win in this scenario because of the voting patterns in Malawi where most people from DPP would prefer voting for UDF than MCP if the wangle continues.
Saulos Forming his party
This move will not be good for 2019 elections. He will get some votes from majority of working class and some youths. However, this will not be enough to make him president in 2019. It means he has to wait for 5 years and work hard to establish a base for his party.
If Atupele rises to Veep in 2019 or president on the way, Saulos is likely to lose in 2024, not because he will not have many votes, but the UDF-DPP coalition may manipulate the results and keep him in the opposition. His had a best chance to be DPP president or running mate in 2019, but Callista has just initiated divisions in the party that will see him not getting any of that from the DPP convention. Chilima will neither become DPP president nor DPP Veep with the current hustle started by Callista. APM was likely to hand over power to Chilima before than now. Hatred and the view that chilima is going to kill DPP are now growing in APM now.
He trusted Chilima before and worked with him so well, but things will change drastically now and will lead to the fall of Chilima. MCP and Times know this well, and they are taking advantage of it to gain MCP popularity and power
Chilima joining another party other than DPP
I personally think that Chilima only lacks party machinery to be Malawi president due to Malawi`s voting patterns. Whichever party he joins (MCP, UDF, DPP or PP), he will win the 2019 election. Now looking at the possibility of Chilima joining these parties, is not something that we can just say will or will not happen. Looking at the voting patterns in Malawi which have not changed since 1994, we can make some conclusions. He cannot join MCP and become president or veep.
Chakwera will still be the party`s representative in the 2019 polls and Mia is likely to be running mate because MCP will need votes from the South and Muslim community to increase its chances. Joining UDF may not make him the president of UDF because Atupele will not allow being running mate. I see a possibility of Atupele allowing him to be running mate and use him to get power and damp DPP.
Your guess is as good as mine, Atupele will need to make him less popular otherwise he will face the same challenge Peter is facing now. Thus, Chilima will face what Malewezi and Joyce Banda faced and this will be his end. I hope he knows this pretty well and cannot make that mistake. Maybe PP will allow Saulos to be president, but the chances of winning might be a bit slim.
Peoples Party (PP) is a dwarf star. So I only see his future lying in DPP which Callista, Winiko and others are ruining by creating divisions in the party. Though many times DPP says there are no division, trust me there are and they are being worsened and something needs to be done, otherwise MCP will win the election.
What should Chilima do then?
As I have been arguing, and shared by many, he has a big chance of winning through DPP, either as its president or running mate. If DPP wins the election with him as running mate, he will rise to presidency in 2024 with no doubt. But the divisions in DPP are widening, and this is doing more harm to him than what most people are seeing, and he will not be picked as running mate.
Times and MCP supporters who are supporting the movement on Facebook and other platforms will not vote in a DPP convention. The only way for him to rise, hopefully many will not agree, is to come out clear that he supports APM as DPP torch bearer and that he belongs to DPP. He is smart and his advisers are smart too, they can design a speech that does not put away many supporters of Chilima outside DPP and at the same time build love and trust from DPP.
Others will say remaining quite will help, but that works for us who are not in DPP. His continued silence will mean something else to DPP to the point of thinking that he is behind the misunderstandings. It will then be too late to come out and try to unite the DPP later.
It is now or never. He holds the key to end the clacks in DPP now due to the nature of the disagreement and its source than APM. It will take a few words to guarantee your presidency SKC i.e “I respect the views coming from the people and I respect that. However, this time let us focus on helping our president to achieve the promises made in the manifesto.
The presidency goes to what the people wants, but for now let us remain focused on developing Malawi”. The fire will seize, and the presidency guaranteed to him.
These are just my views and I am open to constructive criticism and I am not all knowing. Other can have better views that can make more sense than these.
***The views expressed in this article are not necessarily the views of the Publisher or the Editor of Maravi Post