There is a saying which no-one in Malawi’s main opposition party, Malawi Congress Party (MCP), seems to have heard of.
In its original form, it goes like this: “Throw enough mud at the wall, some of it will stick”.
This adage underscores the folly of staying idle when someone is throwing mud at your wall. Some mud, it warns, sticks.
It is, however, taken with a pinch of salt because when a wall is clean, shiny and smooth, most of the mud slides down and falls onto the floor, leaving the wall stained but with no mud sticking.
This notwithstanding, the risk is high that when a ‘wall’ is placed where people, for whatever reason, throw mud at it, it will carry stains.
I will digress and return to this muddy issue later.
Just this week, police arrested seven men and three women suspected to have been on a mission to petrol-bomb the party’s headquarters in Lilongwe.
I will not dwell on the amateurism displayed in this arson attempt but go straight onto the cause.
When the cracks in MCP, a normal occurrence in any really democratic party, were just that (i.e. cracks), was the time when the party should have taken constructive action, and not demonising the voices of dissent nor burying its head in sand hoping the cracks will seal themselves.
Statesmanship called for: first, acknowledging the problem(s), then either reigning in the dissenters or on a round table, agreeing with them to disagree without going public as has been allowed to happen.
But because an ostrich-style approach was deemed ideal, the dissente.
Now I come back to the adage above. Mud thrown at a clean, shiny and smooth wall may indeed not stick. But as I hinted, there is still a downside, the mud leaves stains.
As such, when the mud-thrower tires and wanders off some place, passers-by see the stains and the heap of mud on the floor and begin asking questions.
Whatever explanations are offered do not stop the passers-by wondering why and how, in the first place, a madman or woman was throwing mud at the wall or what it was that attracted the madman or woman to that particular wall and not other walls.
Fine, granted that MCP cannot undo the past, I will let this pass.
But now look here, the cracks have now widened into gullies and still there has been no word – at least in the mainstream media – of the MCP President, reaching out to the‘prodigal’ sons and daughters.
Not even a symbolic gesture after rebuffing which, Jumbe and Chatinkha, would now berightly branded as mercenaries of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Veteran politician John ZU Tembo, himself very well versed in intra-party squabbles due to his own fight with fellow veteran Gwanda Chakuamba, was reported offering to mediate.
What do we hear next?
Surprisingly, the next headline was not: “MCP leaders meet and agree to bury the hatchet”.
It was Jumbe further embarrassing the party by seeking protection at the National Police Headquarters at Area 30 in Lilongwe, after people he believes were sent by some MCP gurus attempted to besiege his residence and set his vehicles on fire.
Disgusting stuff, isn’t it?
I will revert to the converse of that proverb above, which is missing from MCP’s book of proverbs.
It is also true that when you throw mud in the hope of soiling an opponent, sometimes you miss. The mud fails to soil the intended target. But you know what?
It sticks to your hands.
A passer-by will see the mud on your hands and wonder if all is well with you knowing that in these days, we buy burnt bricks for construction; we no longer mould dzidina.
It is with this in mind that MCP zealots throwing mud at the Jumbe and Chatinkha camp ought to think twice, stop, and prevail on Chakwera that the ostrich-style of leadership, with respect to these internal wrangles, has failed.
Likewise Jumbe and Chatinkha Nkhoma. They may not have exhausted their tricks or mud arsenals but while they are piling them up for the next salvo, some mud, in fact a lot of it, is sticking to their hands and fingers.
Now with respect to Jumbe and his undisguised presidential ambitions, with respect to Chatinkha and her claim to be a genuine MCP member and that she is the one who actually made Chakwera what he is, and with respect to Chakwera, who is supposed to be convincing us that the pastor in him has matured into a statesman and not a leader of mud-mongers, this mud-throwing contest and the ostrich-style approach to wrangles are doing very little if not outright damaging their hitherto relatively clean personal CVs.
This is a classic case where chikwama atatole ndi odutsa, that is, the fighters will all lose the ultimate prize to a spectator.
If, on the other hand, all these guys have never, for whatever reason, liked MCP and have created this civil war as a way of killing the party, they are doing the masses out there a grave injustice.
While MCP has never won presidential elections, under Hon JZU Tembo and under Hon Gwanda Chakuamba before him, it was a formidable opposition party.
This cannot be denied.
In fact, there are times MCP saved Malawi from some excesses of these so-called democratically elected presidents.
Therefore, neither Chakwera, Jumbe nor Chatinkha have the right to selfishly and foolishly lead such a national institution prematurely to its graveyard when Malawians need it most, and need it not busy infighting but fighting the worsening corruption.
Can Chakwera stand up please, demonstrate statesmanship and resolve this mess? If he cannot manage this, the church always accepts ‘prodigal’ sons.
MCP’s loss will be the church’s gain. rs, led by Hon Felix E. Jumbe and later joined by Chatinkha Chidzanja Nkhoma, have had field days throwing mud at the MCP President Hon Dr Lazarus Chakwera’s leadership style and lack thereof.