If you think that the aim of the press conference staged by what seemed like some kind of opposition grand coalition last Thursday was to send a message to the Mutharika administration on some pressing issues in the country, you are wrong.
I am sure like me, you were probably left bewildered by its emptiness and total lack of substance.
That press conference was simply a of signal of things to come in the future – some kind of testing the waters or preparing the nation for a grand coalition by the opposition parties that will get together to unseat the DPP in 2019.
This is how you get the people start getting used to the idea of these opposition parties working together so that when the coalition is announced officially, it does not come as a big surprise. If this was the case, however, the whole thing was foolish and misguided.
First and foremost, all the seven opposition members hosting that press conference were above the age of 50, and all of them were the very recycled politicians we do not need if the country is to move forward.
That is already a worry for the future of Malawi. Why are these old men so scared to include younger minds in their schemes of taking over the leadership of this country? Why can they not even allow them to come close enough to lead these parties?
Secondly, all these retirees had for the country were demands to the government to investigate what they consider to be suspicious deaths of two judges.
Maybe I am hard to please, but as far as I am concerned, from these people who seem to be desperately aspiring to replace Peter Mutharika in leading Malawi, I expected so much more.
From a cloud of academic witnesses, my own experience in political governance and from following political thought around the world, it is clear to me that ideology is the source of all organized activity; that there is no possibility of organized social activity without an internalized morality or ideology to legitimatise it.
Indeed, ideology is supposed to be the transcendent phenomenon of everyday life, not as the causal or motivating factor in social activity. I
t is ideology that should be the link between organized mental activity and the organized social world.
Philosophically, ideology serves to legitimate realistic social activity, focus heterogeneous cognitive, moral, and wishful ambitions on the completion of social tasks, and define the range of appropriate behaviours in terms of those tasks.
Ideology is the most important variable in the explanation of social stability and social change.
Considering this, the question bothering me is this: what common ideology brought these men together to hold that press conference? Was it simply the thinking that suspicious deaths need to be investigated?
These are opposition leaders aspiring to lead the country. Surely they should be offering us some kind of political and social thought that they will draw on to change the country for the better, not simply pointing the finger and throwing tuntrums!
As for this grand coalition that seems to have been experimented here, I would remind my fellow Malawians that as we gear ourselves for the 2019 elections, both the government and the opposition must decide who they are going to please and how far they will go to please them.
What we do not want is a coalition of old men, or one of recycled politicians looking to appease each other with taxpayer funds once their dreams to get into government are realized.
For one thing, those politicians that have already previously contested in an election and lost should be viewed with suspicion. Why are they clinging on when the country has already rejected them before?
Malawian traditional practice and experience points to the fact that instead of looking for individuals that will bring credibility to government and men of integrity that will help in the development of the country, leaders of various parties look to settle old scores and repay old favors, or commit themselves to new ones.
Could his grand alliance” of Chakwera, Katsonga, Mnesa and others be considered as having at its heart the interests of Malawi as a nation? A perceptive observer once said, “Politics creates strange bedfellows”.
Political coalitions are not a new concept at all. But they must have ideals and ideologies, not simply empty rhetoric. More importantly, those getting into these grand coalitions need to assess carefully who will head them.
Clearly I can see the beginnings of some kind of coalition with led by Dr Lazarus Chakwera of MCP. In as much as a coalition may be the way forward for the country in the quest to change administrations in 2019, I do not believe that Chakwera has demonstrated enough leadership ability to be the man to head that coalition and take Malawi forward.
This is a matter which those opposition leaders that sat in that press conference need to consider very carefully.
The point being made here is simply this. Politicians must be wary of making political alliances that are based purely on their self-interest (i.e. the self-interest of both parties in the alliance) and not the interests of the nation.
Sooner or later such alliances have a tendency to derail or sabotage national development.
As note of caution, it needs to be borne in mind that political coalitions usually do not end well, and the real victim is always the populace.
The once-close allies soon demand more territory. They threaten to reveal a certain campaign secret if they are removed from a position for corruption or incompetence. They sabotage government because they serve only themselves.
Quarrels arise that keep the leadership preoccupied with solving internal wrangles instead of pursuing development projects.
Finally, any coalition or party that does not take seriously the need for youthful leadership should be condemned. There are many youthful committed, dedicated and patriotic Malawians both in and outside Malawi who would selflessly serve the Malawian cause in the political arena.
These should be sought out and invited to join and contribute rather than parties resorting to spent forces.
If Malawi is really maturing as a democracy, let that maturity now begin to show in allowing the youth to take their rightful place in shaping the nation’s future.
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Publisher or the Editor.