Democracy in Malawi seems to be taking interesting avenues. Lately, I have been all over town and the internet trying to get hold of Hollywood’s Dallas, that great all-time soap playing dynasty politics in a family rich in the oil producing industry.
The tricks employed and all the treachery points to one straight thing – the dynasty trends that Malawian political parties seem to have borrowed from ‘Dallas’ and so too another movie world soap,’ Dynasty’!
Democratic Progressive Party
What was seen as one of Malawi’s most interesting political games unwound last week. For the first time, we witnessed the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) solo presidential candidate, heir Arthur Peter Mutharika (APM) face some opposition since his late brother anointed him successor.
The Blue Party, as the DPP is well documented in my memoirs, has shown some maturity and with it, has surprised many people in Malawi. For starters, no-one thought rumours that the party’s silent son, also Speaker of the National Assembly, Henry Chimunthu-Banda (HCB), would come out in the open and challenge the Professor from Ndata.
DPP is well known to have a great following in its stables, the Lomwe Belt, where late Bingu wa Mutharika, founder and leader of the Blue Party came from. And the votes that came out in Thursday’s through Friday convention held true to that fact, with many of the legible voters coming from the south all the same.
Though HCB had his game plan, it can be said it overlooked the already unwound process to the game. The bald man from Nkhotakota did not do much of his homework, or if he indeed did, he might have been robbed of an opportunity to exercise his full potential in the process by virtue of his late entrance and origins.
Everyone can agree that Chimunthu came into the open somewhat late, and it may not be very surprising that he was trounced badly. APM took with him 1,266 votes against the paltry 73 votes garnered by HCB. Not even his cool poise and text-book vocabulary would impress on the convention electorate to go his way.
Of course there are those people who argue the process was ‘rotten’. They argue HCB can never get 73 votes. How can he fail to get even the nearest 100 votes? This all shows that either there was some systematic ‘rigging’ to the process, which many do not buy, or the majority of the legible voters were from APM’s backyard – the South, which may hold somehow.
Chimunthu on the other part came to a strange area to battle a leader with roots both in the party, having been given the ‘leadership’ first by anointment by his elder brother, second by the party’s National Governing Council (NGC), and third the majority of the party’s following which is the Lomwe Belt stuck with its homeboy syndrome.
HCB is, by origin (there is no Lomwe Belt influence in KK), a stranger to the party, despite that he is one of the four trustees of the DPP. He is just a brick used in the right place to straighten a wall, but again is not as important as the rootholds that are about APM. Chimunthu failed to do his mathematics, also showing interest to contest and battle it out against APM just a few weeks before the showdown. There was no way he was going to make a significant stand in the ring.
Well, I agree with his cry. That the process was not right in all its sense, that is true. How did he expect, in the first place, to experience a fair process when he was playing hide and seek – sheltering his interests for the party’s leadership – particularly by not braving his ambitions when Bingu passed away? He kept aloof, he stayed quiet, he almost distanced himself from the party, and he showed little to no interest to belong to the Blue Party, including in the Chambers where he was slow at showing which party he truly belonged to.
Perhaps he was studying the waters – weighing whether like the Chilumpha’s of this world to jump over to the Orange Party or stay with the Blue Party. That has cost him a lot and his only next step, for now, is to stick to parliamentary and not presidential politics. You lost it, bro! And that is that.
At the DPP convention, where it has all along been clear that APM would be the ‘preferred’ presidential candidate, HCB seems to just have been brought into play to show some semblance of democracy having root in the party.
On second thought, Chimunthu should have known better to be a Mutharika relation before challenging the Ndata brother.
So congratulations to APM, fair process or not!
Malawi Congress Party
John Zenus Ungapake Tembo (JZU as he is popularly known) of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) is also not taking the battle for presidency in the party, hence also the nation, lying down.
The Cockerel Party constitution clearly insinuates Tembo cannot be party to the race having exhausted his two terms at the helm. He does not think so. And as the party announced, only if the party changes its constitution, will one of Malawi’s longest serving politicians and parliamentarians be allowed to race.
JZU has also said he has already collected the papers to enable him to race it out, and will soon be submitting them to the organisers – when the party collects the required MK20 million into the convention kitty to re-organise its political base ahead of the 2014 tripartite elections.
For all that Malawians know, in particular MCP diehards, Tembo will not watch Chris Daza, Rev. Lazarous Chakwera – president of the Adventist Church of Malawi and also chairperson of the Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM), and one former farmers boss Felix Jumbe battle it out and take the presidency. We all know that the man nicknamed Puludzu is a fighter and can pull some surprises. Late entrant to the race Joda Kanjere also ought to be worry of this.
As a matter of fact, someone somewhere tried to tie the late Ngwazi Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s blood line to JZU, of course through his niece Mama Cecelia Kadzamira – a symbiosis or parasitical approach to the ‘blood line’, perhaps. He must have been dreaming party leadership based on ‘dynasties’.
So Chakwera, Daza, Jumbe, Kanjere and others, learning from the DPP debacle, can as well start right now trying to tie their origins to either the Kamuzu Banda or JZU blood lines so that their bids may work.
Peoples Party and the United Democratic Front, etc
Conventions in Malawi are a democratic process, we may argue, but when it comes to the actualities of the processes, we all know that the Peoples Party (PP) would not have any other presidential candidate other than Mrs. Joyce Banda who is also the current State President. After all, its her party!
The moment you start to argue or to parade some none-Mtila blooded people for the PP leadership just know that your political career, at least within the PP, is over. Political parties in Malawi have always been synonymous with their creators.
We also all know that the United Democratic Front (UDF) would not allow any one without the Muluzi hide to take the party to 2014 general elections.
Atupele Muluzi leading the UDF is not just by mistake or a feat achieved only by a mischievous child. This scenario was planned long time ago when Bakili Muluzi took the reins of power in what was Malawi’s first multiparty regime.
Atcheya, as the senior Muluzi is known, must have taken the late Davis Kapito’s word seriously. The UDF was and still is full of ‘madeya’, people who cannot lead the party. That is why he chose a complete outsider, Bingu, to take over the party and stand for presidency – with success.
Years on, Atcheya still knows that all the chuff that still plays in the party are not fit for presidency. Only one man stands out and is fit for the party’s leadership – and that is none other than the young Muluzi of the Change Agenda. And we all know not any party member would be voted into the party’s leadership at their convention apart from Atupele.
Simply put, people who do not share the Abiti-Mtila bloodline should never contest for PP leadership ever in their lifetime; just as no-one no matter how influential should contest the DPP leadership if they do not have a Mutharika blood-line; as none short of Muluzi blood should ever dare to contest the UDF leadership just as I doubt if the Alliance For Democracy (Aford) will this time around, should they hold a convention, deny Enock Chihana the party’s leadership lest Chakufwa Chihana’s soul brings untold uncertainty on the already ‘confused’ party.
Malawi political parties are a ‘dynasty’ that is yet to be accepted as it is. This is the sorry state of affairs.
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