The idea I pitched a while ago that political parties in Malawi are a curse and the reason behind governance failures, was met with skepticism.Many, for various reasons, found the concept unpalatable and impractical.
My argument remains that aspiring political leaders should advance their cause by avoiding the arbitrary loyalty imposed by political party sponsorship and affiliation because political parties – and their inherent mediocrity – pull them down sooner or later.
All things considered, this still remains my view. The evidence is just too glaring and overwhelming for anyone to convince me otherwise.
Having said that, since the majority seems to be incurably infected and affected by the ‘party-virus’, I will shelve this until more people see the obvious light in future.
Since most Malawians are obsessed with political-partyism, I will for now stick to how we can reconfigure and revitalize the party landscape, not necessarily hoping to make it work – this is too much to ask for; but so that political parties can do lesser damage than they are doing now.
We have witnessed the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)’s foot-dragging to deliver on its electoral promises to the extent that Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has had to shove the Access To Information (ATI) Bill down its throat; we have seen MCP’s failure to fully capitalise on the DPP-made mess; and we are eyewitnesses to United Democratic Front (UDF)’s failure to be faithful to its followers to the extent that it is now doubtful if in 2019 it will feature candidates at all.
With respect to the Peoples Party (PP), there is nothing worth writing home about; it is virtually dead; a party on the decline, just waiting for the last nail on its coffin, much like the UDF.
Against this background, or rather since despite this sad state of political party affairs you still insist that political parties matter, I will play along, for now.
It is no longer a secret that the Vice President Dr Saulosi Chilima is now ‘the only visitor in Jerusalem’ among the DPP rank and file.
Now, if MCP has any strategists at all, what is stopping them from recruiting him, knowing as we do – via former President Joyce Banda’s adventure – that no matter how it tried, DPP could not fire Chilima as Vice President?
You are wondering how MCP would benefit from poaching Chilima?
The answer lies in MCP President Rt. Hon. Dr Chakwera’s latest speech, where he lamented the fact that President Mutharika is misusing Chilima’s talents.
“You (Mutharika) have failed the Vice President because you have failed to maximize the young man’s talents for progress.”
This, as far as am concerned, was Dr Chakwera’s open invitation to the Vice President.
“Mr State Vice President, ditch the DPP where no one wants you. Come join the MCP where you will really have the space to showcase your talents by reforming the sluggish MCP which is proving too hot for me to handle!”
Now while he is at it, I would advise Chakwera to pave way, humble himself and give the mantle to this ‘talented’ young man to lead the much needed revival in MCP and set it on the road not only to wrestling power from DPP in 2019, but to offer Malawi a chance to truly reform in line with his vision.
If anyone needs more convincing, a journey back in the MCP’s electoral history will help.
The only time that MCP came truly close to winning an election in the multiparty era was when it fielded the late Gwanda Chakuamba as presidential candidate.
Now, I believe that it is not just sheer coincidence or happenstance that the one time MCP was led by a Malawian from the southern region, it almost ascended to power.
My assertion is: if MCP is serious about leading this country and rescuing it from the quagmire that the current DPP has thrown it into, then it must cast away the tribalism and especially the regionalistic thinking that infects and affects all parties in Malawi and embrace in inclusivity so unusual that it can truly be a game changer.
Imagine if you will a Chilima /Chakwera ticket and how it would revitalize MCP and galvanise the young generation – who by the way the DPP is condemning to eternal borrowing with its insatiable appetite for borrowing for toilets.
Wouldn’t that be the day? Saulosi Chilima, a “talented young man” as per Chakwera, can truly bring vibrancy to the MCP.
Furthermore, if MCP were to field Chilima as presidential candidate, not only would it be demonstrating the rare maturity of inclusivity; it would also reap from the demographic dividend and defeat the regionalism dynamic that has practically always been at play in every single election in Malawi since 1994.
I suspect that Chilima himself would not be too averse to the idea.
Given his current situation, and the fact that after the vice presidency, the only real career progression for him from there is to vie for the presidency itself, and given that it seems the DPP platform is not going to be available to him, I imagine he could be persuaded to embrace MCP and lead the party to victory in 2019.
Needless to say he would also bring with him some electoral “talents” which while useful for MCP, would put the DPP out of business in the literal sense and forever reshape the electoral game!
While some will write this off as a non-starter, I submit that this is the game-changing political thinking that needs to be taken seriously and considered, or at least debated especially within MCP rank and file.
After all, in the end, what we all want as Malawians is a leadership that will transform the country and it shouldn’t really matter who the person eventually is, as long as they have a clean CV and proven competencies.
After all has been said and done, my uncommon sense tells me that a Chilima/Chakwera ticket in 2019 will be a match made in heaven.