“I hope that

in this year to come,
you make mistakes,
if you’re making mistakes,
then you’re making new things”
Neil Gaiman, English author

Look, whatever spin PP can spew out, the ruling party is not ending the year looking good. The MCP was a butt of jokes for PP apologists when one Chris Daza defected.

“How can a whole Secretary General quit?” went the refrain.

Well and good, but how then do we explain the departure of a whole provincial vice president? A crisis? A game-changer? Maybe a break-through!

By the way, I must say I was impressed by the reaction of Hophmally Makande, the PP prolocutor, on the departure of PP Vice President (Central Province) Cassim Chilumpha. “We’re saddened,” he told a radio station. “We’ll miss his talents.”

But the party’s Chief Executive proved that PP is as ordinary as they come. Good riddance to bad rubbish, Secretary General Paul Maulidi seemed to say when he described Chilumpha as “lazy”.

Really? When did the orange team realise that Kaka was “lazy”? Why wait until he showed you his back before you told him how useless he was?

Instead of being petty the party – through its CEO Maulidi, should have engaged in some serious soul-searching. How could a senior member quit a ruling party only months to a crucial election? What does that tell you about the pedigree of the party?

Let us consider for a while Kaka’s reasons for quitting, that Abiti was openly campaigning for his bosom friend-turned-nemesis Fahad Assani. If indeed President Banda preferred Fahad over Cassim she should have used the tried and tested Bakili Muluzi doctrine.

Here is how I mean: The self-styled political engineer was faced with a similar dilemma when he wanted his son, Atupele Austin, to stand as an MP for the Machinga East constituency.

The incumbent, Thengo Maloya, was not only a political ally of Muluzi’s but also a senior member of the then ruling UDF. Using his legendary political engineering, Atcheya dangled an irresistible carrot before Thengo and shipped him out to Kowloon to become our man in Taiwan. A perfect win-win situation: Atcheya got his way, Thengo was happy too, and Atupele was in Parliament.

Abiti, faced with the Kaka versus Kaka scenario, should have borrowed a leaf from the Atcheya School of Applied Politics. She should have called Cassim to Kamuzu Palace and put it to him, “Hey, look here, Bright – do you still answer to that name? You have been in the House for two decades. Hey, that’s even longer than I have been in that dreadful House! Look here, Cassim – or can I call you Bright? – I want to use you elsewhere. You know, Emmanuel Fabiano is retiring from the Unima. I want you there, Cassim. Can I make you Vice Chancellor while I try Fahad in Nkhotakota South?”

I am sure the reticent academic could have come out of that meeting not feeling like a condom, used and discarded without ceremony. Surely, with his presidential ambitions diminishing by the day, Kaka would have preferred to retire to the quietness of Zomba and leave the hustle and bustle of Parliament to the more extrovert Fahad.

Like Muluzi did with Thengo and Atupele, Ama could have chalked a win-win situation and preserved the unflinching allegiance of both Kakas.

But President Banda let Fahad square up with Cassim on the ground. C’mon, the stakes were too high for both dudes. Something – someone – had to give.

Chilumpha, as an incumbent MP, knew his CV could have been fatally bruised had he lost to Assani in the PP primaries. He knew he could beat his estranged buddy; in any case he has done that before.

But then he did not want to dance with fate. After all, the one he beat was an independent Fahad, not Fahad the trusty Justice Minister flying a national flag and backed by the most powerful woman around.

So he did not want to tempt fate. He chose to opt out.

Now, as a free agent and an incumbent, Cassim will be attractive to other parties, especially the UDF and the MCP. (DPP is not an option for Kaka, its godfather reduced him to surviving on Fanta, remember?)

Now PP has its work cut out for it in Nkhotakota South. The ruling party will not only have to fight against a resurgent MCP but also an angry former state and party veep. That is not a desirable fight even if you are Muhammad Ali, Joe Fraser and Mike Tyson rolled into one.

Abiti should be calculative and choosy of the battles she picks. Some of them are costly and needless and therefore avoidable. She must have Bakili’s number somewhere. She has to sound him up once in a while for tips on how he wriggled himself out of some impossible political logjams.

Some would argue, ‘but Atcheya did not always use conventional tactics’. Who said politics was conventional?


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