Listening to MCP president Lazarus Chakwera respond to the speech that President Peter Mutharika delivered during the opening of the 46th session of Parliament last week, it is clear the Leader of the Opposition did his home work and utilised his team to the fullest.
If you ask him, I can see the finger-prints of Jesse Kabwila all over the speech and I would not be surprised that the other rising stars in the party such as Kusamba Dzonzi and Alekeni Menyani had a hand in the analysis of the economic situation.
In short, Chakwera’s speech captured everything that needed to be captured and it gave a resounding critique of government policy and reform.
The speech dealt with almost all issues that have dogged us ranging from the poor state of the economy, our subsidy-dependent agriculture, the sorry hunger situation on the ground to the breakdown of security, the ever dwindling standards of education and the ever needed constitutional reforms especially in the electoral law.
This is politics and, according to Chakwera, all these problems must be left on the door step of the President.
But DPP is the party in power and must not bury its head in the sand but rise to the challenge that MCP has posed and begin to attempt to steal the thunder from the opposition party’s nose.
Take heed of the need to reform the electoral law. DPP won last year’s elections alright but can the party say with confidence that if they had a choice of a better alternative, they would go into government through shambolic elections that put their mandate in doubt?
The problems that dogged those polls were just unprecedented and the incompetence of Mec was mind- blowing.
Since independence, this was the first time that voting was extended to three days.
Since 1964, this was the first time that our teachers were accused of failing to do proper arithmetic in adding up votes at polling station level leading to a plethora of additional mistakes that even surprised toddlers in pre-school.
And, yes, it took tremendous patience and love of peace for all Malawians to accept the verdict of the polls and move on as we have done.
A repeat of such a scenario in 2019 is simply incomprehensible. Yet this is the stark reality the country faces if nothing is done between now and then to reform the electoral law.
I am sure the DPP wants to deliver a win this year which nobody would doubt unlike their unenviable case now with a majority of Malawians voting for the President.
This can only be the case if one thing happens and it is to revert to 50+1 electoral system other than the present first-past-the post which has seen some of our presidents being voted into office by less than half of the entire population.
No doubt they had the mandate to rule but if I were them, I would not be proud to realise that, while I am President, more than half of Malawians rejected me.
This is why DPP must do what should be in the interest of Malawians. Reform the law and steal the thunder from under MCP noses.
Although MCP has seen some advantages in the 50+1 system, there is no guarantee that it would win polls in 2019 given some of the problems that party is also embroiled in.
Simply put, no party can claim that any system can give it an advantage unless it convinces Malawians it has the desire, determination and ability to do things differently.
Just see how MCP has reacted to the simple issue of Parliament buying Chakwera a top of the range vehicle. Its line seems to be: Everyone is doing it, why not us?
But Malawians want to see something different. They want to see who can sacrifice their own comfort for their sake even though they are perfectly entitled to it.
DPP must rise up the challenge that MCP has posed. It won’t go wrong.
- The article appeared in the Malawi News under ‘Hitting the Nail’ column