The once mighty opposition party, the Malawi Congress Party is heading for the doldrums and the euphoria the party had for its new president Dr. Lazarus Chakwera is fading away.
The fading away of Chakwera’s euphoria is in fulfillment of what Democratic Progressive Party spokesperson Nicholas Dausi prophesied weeks after the election of Chakwera as MCP president. Dausi said the euphoria would die.
The party today is facing rebellion posing threat to its chances of winning the 2014 tripartite elections. The recent rebellion came from its secretary general Dr. Chris Daza who defected to the ruling Peoples Party.
Daza and the others who have rebelled against the party leadership may have good reasons for their choice of movement but that puts the new president in an awkward position. The president is challenged to reflect on his leadership style which has already become centre of attack.
Daza resigned from MCP saying he wanted freedom. That statement should not be underestimated. Daza himself, was a very senior officer; in fact chief executive officer of the party. So, what does he mean by saying he wanted freedom? Point for Chakwera to reflect.
What kind of leadership is Chakwera practising when he is accused of not appreciating high placed officials of the party like Daza himself? What kind of leadership is Chakwera practising when he is accused of nepotism?
The party’s youth director for central region Ndekhantani Kalimwendo also resigned and accused Chakwera of practising nepotism and being stingy.
The director said a very pertinent issue which exposes what Chakwera is and the little chances he has to win the elections in 2014.
The director said about 90 percent of key positions in the party belong to people in Lilongwe thus central region. The political meaning of this is that chances for MCP to win are too minimal. How? MCP has always been known for concentrating itself in the central region. And today, the party cannot claim to have total grip over the central region because other parties too have penetrated the region and have portions. MCP needs portions from other regions but it will be hard for it to get those portions.
It is clear that MCP is not popular in the southern region. The south is very divided. The Llomwe districts of Thyolo, Mulanje, Chiradzulu, Phalombe all belong to or support the Democratic Progressive Party. They all rally behind Peter Mutharika of the DPP because his late brother, Bingu wa Mutharika, former president of the country, was also a Llomwe from Thyolo.
The eastern region districts of Machinga, Zomba, Mangochi and Balaka are dominated by Yaos and most of them are known to be supporters of the United Democratic Front and its leader Atupele Muluzi. Another portion from the same eastern region supports President Joyce Banda and her Peoples Party. So, MCP is out of this region and the Llomwe districts.
The northern region is a tricky area. Every major party in the country can claim support from the region. The region used to be controlled by Alliance for Democracy but today, the DPP, PP, UDF and MCP ,may claim some support.
Looking at the political terrain so far, MCP is not that popular in the north. When Chakwera visited the region, his rallies were poorly patronized. Joyce Banda’s rallies were reasonable patronized but perhaps because of the fact that she is President of the country. Atupele Muluzi’s rallies were also not that impressive. But DPP’s Peter Mutharika enoyed great support in his rallies.
From this simple and crude assessment, MCP has a lot of work to do to claim votes next year.
Now, the mistake made by Chakwera is to give 90 percent of the positions in the national executive committee of the party to people from Lilongwe or central region. Who will drum the support for the party in the other regions?
And to make matters worse, where Chakwera was seen losing focus, was where he left out his runner up in the Convention polls, former Chief Justice, Lovemore Munlo. He came second in votes and many people expected that Chakwera would put Munlo in the NEC but the man was completely left out.
Chakwera has also left out veterans of the party who are bitter now. For example, Joseph Njovuyalema does not hide his bitterness. He said he is not excited at all with his new party position as deputy campaign director.
Where is Chakwera’s mistake on Munlo? Munlo comes from Chiradzulu, one of the Lhomwe belt districts. Most of the people that voted for him came from the South and that shows that he would be able to drum more support for the party in the south where there are many voters too. But Chakwera missed that opportunity.
Killing the party further is the new spokesperson of the party that Chakwera chose, Dr. Jessie Kabwila, a senior lecturer at the Chancellor College. Learned as she is, she is failing to apply basic public relations principles. Instead of giving good image to the party, she is busy destroying it further.
A good public relations officer cannot react to the resignation of the party’s youth director for the centre saying the young fellow wants to partake of the cashgate money. Can that be a response from a mature public relations officer?
And a serious public relations officer cannot react to Daza’s resignation as Kabwila did. She said Daza resigned because he was licking the wounds of his failed bid to win the party’s presidency during the convention.
Political analysts have warned Chakwera to tread carefully in the run up to the elections because he is poised for downfall if he does not put the house in order especially with the defections of big gurus of the party including Bester Majoni.