Muckraking the Muckraker: Tenthani got it wrong on Chakwera’s bid to lead Malawi Congress Party

“Am I the only one who feels underwhelmed by the coming on the scene the Reverend Lazarus Chakwera as one of the wannabes for the top post in the oldest party in the land.”

In his column column of Sunday April 21, 2015 the Muckraker responded to the rhetorical question above in a manner that left me speechless. I have always read, enjoyed and understood the logic behind his muckraking efforts. But this piece, I should say disappointed me.

After reading and re-reading the article, it is my view the Muckraker missed a few things and failed to go far back enough in the history of not only Malawian politics but more so the history of the Malawi Congress Party, to conclude – wrongly – that MCP should look elsewhere for new leadership and that Dr Lazarus Chakwera is not the ideal.

The Muckraker’s case basically revolved around the famous Bingu wa Mutharika vs. United Democratic Front (UDF) fall-out of 2004/05.  This according to the Muckraker is why MCP should be wary of Dr Rev Chakwera and any new faces for that matter.

Rev Chakwela

Rev Chakwela

The Muckraker wrote:

“Muluzi therefore brought in a rank outsider, one Bingu wa Mutharika. We all know the Trojan Horse the imported candidate became to the once-upon-a-mighty party; Bingu carved his own DPP out of the UDF and left it bleeding until it haemorrhaged itself to near death.”

From my own following and understanding of the Mutharika vs. UDF fall-out, the Muckraker’s comparing that fall out to Dr Chakwera’s interest to lead MCP is not only wrong, but identical to comparing mangoes to apples.

The point being that Bingu wa Mutharika, before being roped into the UDF to become a “Trojan Horse”; had his own political party called the United Party (UP).

Therefore, UDF was once upon a time, a party he was in competition with as evidenced by his disastrous bid for the presidency in 1999 when he polled 22,073 nationwide.  Bingu wa Mutharika only dissolved the UP when late Dumbo Lemani got him onto the path to 2004. It follows therefore, that Bingu wa Mutharika was not UDF at heart.

Dr Chakwera on the other hand, unless the Muckraker can prove otherwise, has always been a bona fide member of the MCP as confirmed by Honourable John Tembo himself on his April 28th 2013 interview on Zodiak Broadcasting Station, though at somewhat subtly given the fact that he was running a different sort of ministry.

Therefore, the Muckraker was wrong to compare late Bingu wa Mutharika’s prompted joining of the UDF, with Dr Chakwera – along time member of the MCP.

The Muckraker then offered alternatives. These he said could come from “the old guard who drunk from the well of wisdom of its founding father, Hastings Kamuzu Banda”.

He tossed a few names around in the form of “the former Speaker of Parliament and Finance Minister Louis Chimango, veterans like Jodda Kanjere and such like”.

And the Muckraker did not stop there. He flipped the coin to what he referred to as “the Facebook and twitter generation” and according to him; Messrs Chris Daza, Chris Chaima Banda and Edwin Banda and Jolly Kalelo fall into this category of options.

Interestingly, he quickly discounted Chris Daza and labelled him a terrorist.

“…but Daza is a terrorist. He wanted to grab the party hence power hungry. Such lust would make him another dictator,” – the Muckraker. After going on and on he finally settled on Hon. Joseph Njobvuyalema.

I found this interesting because while Chris Chaima Banda is now a Peoples Party member, and hence disqualified by failing to meet the eight points recently prescribed by MCP for anyone vying for a party position; the rest, save for Chris Daza the “terrorist” and Mr Jodda Kanjere have not expressed interest in anything.

One can assume that they have good reasons for not doing so. Should the party force them at “gun point” to bid for the MCP top job? In Chichewa we have a saying about “fupa lokakamiza …” – forcing people does not work, meaning that those individuals that did not express interest should be left to their own devices.

And then came the Muckraker’s third and final argument which as far as I am concerned, is clutching at straws.

“Political parties should be a training ground for the production of national leaders. Rev. Chakwera can therefore not just spring from nowhere and claim to represent the ideals and aspirations of the MCP. That is a fallacy and recipe for chaos, ask Muluzi.”

If the Muckraker was unacquainted with the history of the Malawi Congress Party I would have understood his “confusion”.

Look here Mr Muckraker: when Kamuzu assumed the leadership of the then Nyasaland African Congress (NAC) in 1958, in which political party had he undergone apprenticeship?

Was Kamuzu not, in comparison to Levi Mumba, Kanyama Chiume, Dunduzu Chisiza, or Orton Chirwa a “rank outsider”?

 “If truth be told,” the Muckraker insisted “if Dr Chakwera wants to lead the MCP someday, let him start at branch and then constituency level. Let him fight for a parliamentary seat on the ticket of the MCP. He cannot just shoot from nowhere and be in the hot seat.”

Obviously in the light of the ascending of Kamuzu to the NAC /MCP top post never occurred to our dear Muckraker.

Putting this differently, applying his logic to Kamuzu’s leadership assumption, in which MCP branch and then constituency did Dr Kamuzu Banda launch his political career on his way to the helm of the NAC and MCP?

And mind you, in Dr Kamuzu Banda, we are talking about someone who had been away from Nyasaland for decades yet save for a couple of years, Dr Chakwera has always been in Malawi.

“I welcome Rev. Chakwera’s interest in the MCP. But let him go back to basics. He should not start from the top Let him start from the bottom. Let him climb his way through the rungs to reach the pinnacle.”

To wrap up, I beg to disagree with the Muckraker. If Dr Chakwera, the Muckraker and even me, meet the eight conditions set by the Malawi Congress Party, we are free to bid for any position, at any level, in the Malawi Congress Party. With due respect I conclude by paraphrasing the “honourable” Muckraker:

“Am I the only one who feels underwhelmed in a big way by the esteemed Muckraker’s case questioning the coming on the scene the Reverend Lazarus Chakwera as one of the wannabes for the top post in the oldest party in the land?”

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