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Lazarus’ applied maths

“Whenever a man 

has cast a longing eye
on offices,
a rottenness begins in his conduct”
Thomas Jefferson

Let us first talk about Lazarus Chakwera’s aborted pilgrimage to Bingu’s ‘Taj Mahal’.

The MCP’s latter-day Moses knows he needs the South, read Lhlomwe, vote to make it to Kamuzu Palace that is why last week, during his ten-day stay in the region, he decided to exploit the spirit of that guy who shamelessly made Lhlomwe the ‘super tribe’.

But was Abusa not shooting himself in the foot by trying to visit the shrine of a guy everyone wanted out not too long ago? What is it that Bingu has done – posthumously – that is so out of the ordinary that it has absolved him of all the ‘bad’ things associated with him?

Remember his militant ‘I’ll smoke out’, ‘ndikumenyanimenyani’ and ‘I’ll meet you in the streets’ rants? I thought Abusa’s message should the antithesis of what Bingu represented?

Granted, Rev. Chakwera wants to be a statesman by embracing Malawi’s history. After all he leads a party with so chequered a history that many people grow goose bumps to imagine it back in power.

But Chakwera’s pilgrimage to Bingu’s shrine was ill-timed to say the least.

But let us talk soccer for now!

For those of you who follow soccer religiously, the English Premier League must be your preoccupation. In fact, I know friends who can recite names of players in at least five teams in the English Premier League by heart but they hardly know three names in our own Big Bullets or Mighty Wanderers.

Although supporters of the current champions, Manchester United, wear sullen faces nowadays, they at least know the Red Devils have a ‘mathematical chance’ of still turning the tables and retain the championship.

By this they mean that if Man U will win all their remaining games while, say, the Top 4 teams keep losing theirs, then the cup may still remain at Old Trafford.

That will not happen, of course, but I am bringing this up because, all things considered, the main opposition MCP also has a ‘mathematical chance’ of causing an upset come May 20.

Forget the DPP’s foray in the Centre last time we queued to vote some five years ago, the MCP are still kings in the second largest region of the country. Re-energised by new, supposedly untainted, leadership – like the phoenix of old – the oldest party in the land just might rise again.

Here is how the mathematics might work: We have four serious contenders and a few wannabes. Out of the four main contenders three are from the populous South.

Whatever matrix you may use, Joyce Banda, Peter Mutharika and Atupele Muluzi will divide among themselves the votes in the South almost in equal measure.

Let us skip the Centre and head North first. Historically the smallest region of the country has always been fickle in its voting pattern since the dawn of multiparty politics in 1994. It is the only region in the country that is politically conscious and therefore responds to emerging issues.

That is why in 2004 it voted massively for the émigré Republican Party of Gwanda Chakuamba, an old dude from the deep South, when its regional ‘god’ Chakufwa Chihana decided to consort with the UDF, the party the region accuses of ‘stealing’ the presidency from it in 1994.

The North again showed its fickleness when it massively voted for Bingu’s DPP in 2009.

But, after Bingu’s crazy ‘Mzuzu Corner’ speech and the quota system in public university selection, the North will definitely dump the DPP this time around.

Of course, notwithstanding that, the DPP may still grab a few seats in the region.

But the MCP should forget making a significant showing in the region. Look, the North still has historical issues with the MCP; remember teachers from the region were relocated back there on John Tembo’s watch?

So, despite Lazarus Chakwera’s wife, NyaGondwe, coming from Mwazisi somewhere in the hills of Rumphi, the region will not give the cleric-cum-politician enough votes with which to open the Banana Room at Kamuzu Palace.

Which leaves the Centre to decide the national outcome.

The election of Rev. Chakwera as the MCP torch-bearer in the May 20 elections brought some fresh air to a party weighed down by three decades of bad history. JZU, if truth be told, represented the MCP’s dark past. Whatever was wrong with the MCP era has his handwriting all over the place.

The ringing vote of no confidence in JZU and the equally ringing endorsement of Rev. Chakwera last August energised the MCP so much that the oldest party in the land suddenly started becoming attractive again. Just look at the parliamentary candidates that are falling over themselves to represent the party one Chihana famously branded a party of ‘death and darkness’.

It almost feels May 20 is Chakwera’s to lose…

…Not until, of course, you factor in a number of significant fundamentals.

I have demonstrated how the North abhors anything ‘black-cockish’. So not enough votes beyond Jenda for Abusa, if truth be told.

Which leaves Chakwera the South to augment his Centre vote.

But again, if truth be told, the more than a decade he was at the helm of the MCP, John Tembo did next to nothing to make the MCP be felt beyond Jenda or Tsangano Turn Off. Chakwera has less than four months to consolidate his hold on the Centre and break into the North and South.

A gargantuan feat, one would say, but not impossible.

Chakwera can steal the thunder from his three main opponents by his choice of running mate. He needs a ‘guy’ (or a ‘doll’) from either the North or Centre.

But, realistically, he should forget the North and, instead, train his eyes on the South. He needs someone who can appeal to the PMCT – Phalombe, Mulanje, Chiradzulu and Thyolo.

I can volunteer a few names…no, just one…Lovemore Munlo. The former Chief Justice has name recognition and means to make the MCP relevant in the South, I mean the PMCT region.

But will Abusa trust a guy who gave him a serious run for his money at the convention with the No. 2 spot? I am not sure. But Munlo can grab a few PMCT votes.

Chakwera must think about these things instead of wasting time visiting shrines.

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