Each Malawian democratic election since 1994 has left a few important questions unanswered. One of the important questions is: by what margin should a president be declared a winner.
This question has surfaced this time around, with the MCP and other political pundits saying Arthur Peter Mutharika (APM) is not the legitimate leader because he only won with some 36 percent. The argument is that this means 64 pc—the majority of Malawians—don’t just like APM and he can’t represent them.
Unfortunately, this will remain just talk and talk at every election. Nothing happens. Nobody bothers to collect the situation. The rubber stamp parliament is even worse—it lacks the guts to talk real issues in that august house. The lawmakers seem to worry about their perks than anything else.
Fortunately, the fathers of the Malawi constitution knew exactly that with a divided nation in terms of tribes and regions, no president would amass over 50 percent to win the election, unless of course there has been rigging. I don’t want to speculate what happened in 2009 when Bingu won by 68 percent, whitewashing JZU and his UDF coalition.
May be in 2009, Bingu had one party to fight against. In 2014, we had 12 presidential candidates who shared the votes, with APM winning by 36 % margin. The second candidate-LC- won by 28 percent, while JB came third with a poor 20pc.
Had there been two candidates only, APM could have won by more than 40 percent, but not 50 percent.
So, the framers of the constitution decided on the formula of FPTP—first past the post—for a candidate to be declared the winner. Even if APM won by 25 percent, he could have been declared winner—that’s the idea of FPTP. Even if he had won by 50,000 votes. Imagine this!
So what should Malawi do? Ask parliament, although the august house would have no clue of what to do. I don’t just trust our parliament, always afraid to pass bills that would give more meaning to our constitution.
They don’t pass bills that would reduce political tension and enhance democracy; bills that would really bind this nation despite the political and tribal differences and ills that would stop politicians from practicing prostitution—moving from one party to another at no will and without any conscience.
APM has been accused of hiring a cabinet based on tribal and regional lines. Of course this argument has been argued by the opposition MCP which thinks that nobody from the central region finds himself in the 20-member cabinet.
But APM, in appointing his cabinet based on what he knows, did not have any guidelines on how to appoint his team. Nor did Bingu, Bakili Muluzi, Joyce Banda and Kamuzu Banda had a formula for appointing the cabinet. The constitution does not even say how a president should appoint a cabinet based on regionalism or tribalism.
But politics has changed a lot since 1994. Ask Joyce Banda what it means to appoint a “unity cabinet” by appointing anybody from the MCP into cabinet. That person means he is finished with the MCP-he or she will never be elected again into office under another party apart from the MCP. I won’t tell you the names, but many of the political figures who ditched the MCP to go into cabinet had short political careers.
Ok, let me tell you one name: Sosten Ngwengwe, picked into the Joyce Banda cabinet, made a running mate and he lost everything. His only option is to go back to MCP, if he can humble himself to do so. But as long as he is PP, he won’t make it to parliament. Chewa’s are tough customers—the MCP is their bible.
So, at the end of the day, APM knows what he is doing. Why he should pick an MCP politician into the cabinet when that politician will be ending his career with the MCP? Why should he hide in the name of a “unity government” by appointing everybody into the cabinet?
Malawi will remain a tribal and regionalist nation until Jesus comes back. It’s a fact and the truth.
And then there is this lawmaker from the North who thinks the north should be an independent country called Mzimba, or as someone said the republic of Chikangawa. He thinks the North has been neglected in terms of development and northerners are better off running their own show.
If this is not a pipe dream, I have problems to describe what it is. Probably bit of madness. Did Bakili Muluzi kneel down the other year to offer Chakufwa Chihana, son of the northern soil, the vice presidency? Why did Chihana not help develop the North when he was the second veep?
Have we not had northerners occupying top positions in the cabinet? Was Khumbo Kachali, thanks to JB, not the country’s vice president in two years? How long has the noted Goodall Gondwe been finance minister? The list is endless.
In short, this foolish talk about the north to be on its own should never be entertained. We are all one and Malawi is such a small country that we would be so foolish to give northerners the republic of Chikangawa.
The best would be to find ways how we can stop Cashgate and other secret frauds and corruption from continuing. That’s Malawi’s biggest problem—stealing from the state coffers by politicians. Mukupulika? Yewo chomene!