Chakwera’s last chance to be Malawi president: Winning gambit with Mia?

It’s been a long time since Malawi Congress Party (MCP) last tasted levers of power but we will not wait long to find out if the decision by MCP president Lazarus Chakwera, to name— early— his running mate for next May’s presidential elections, was a masterstroke.

Chakwera and his second-in command Mia

Or that giving the berth to politician-cum-businessperson, Sidik Mia, was the last jigsaw that solves MCP’s elusive election winning puzzle—something that has alluded the country’s oldest party since return of democracy in 1994.

All we can do is haphazard a few guesses on why Chakwera has opted for Mia: his rumoured wealth, regional politics or pressure from within the party.

Indeed, ever since Gwanda Chakuamba ditched MCP after losing the seemingly permanent leadership fight with nemesis John Tembo, MCP has struggled to win any votes in the southern region.

That for the first time— since Chakuamba’s era—the party won a parliamentary seat in Nsanje district (while nationally resoundingly winning 5 out of six contested by-election seats), means the Mia effect should not be wished away.

In each past presidential election, MCP has always come close, but nominally fell short of victory. A carefully picked 2019 running mate was one of the strategies supposed to fix that shortfall, by ensuring the party boasts its votes where it has traditionally polled dismally.

With the recent IPOR study indicating Chakwera is statistically tied in the presidential race with incumbent Peter Mutharika, an alliance with another party such as former president, Joyce Banda’s People’s Party or Vice President Saulos Chilima’s United Transformation Movement (UTM) was more attractive option.

Chakwera, perhaps motivated by other calculations, has passed the option.

Still smarting from the party’s recently-quelled bitter internal fights, Chakwera might have been afraid of upsetting Mia—and risk another internal civil war. And the ugliness of the rhetoric from some senior MCP officials when publicly pushing back the alliance suggestion, reveals the volumes of pressure Chakwera was placed under to pick Mia and why he has broken with tradition to announce his running mate early.

If that’s the rationale, one of way of seeing it is that Chakwera’s political stamina is very questionable but a more generous view would be that he is calculated.But something else must be addressed.

While protecting the slot for its benefactor, the pro-Mia MCP faction, almost inevitably for politicians, sold us a few lies, chief among them, that MCP mustn’t go into an alliance because the other parties are “compromised and tainted.”

We know, with gruesome certainty, that this is disingenuous. And you don’t have to look further than Mia, who has been UDF, DPP, PP, UDF, retired and now MCP, to realise that the new MCP is full of old recycled folks who fits the “compromised and tainted” billing.

But whatever you make of it, Mia will bring MCP some votes. Mia will also be found repulsive mostly likely by some of the very voters who can’t vote for “compromised and tainted.”

In 2014, the ‘Chakwera for President’ euphoria profited from a nationwide yearning for change. The youth, educated and urban class were very much the cornerstone of this movement.

Today, those voters, as the IPOR study told us, are readying to vote Chilima.

Part of the explanation is that after serving in public office for four years, Chakwera is no longer the exciting ‘breathe of fresh air candidate’ he was four years ago. Back then, he was an eloquent—still is— ordinary church folk who looked like ‘one of us’.

He was not rich and represented a party that had not been in power for a long time—hence not “tainted and compromised” in the eyes of substantial number of voters. Hence Chakwera could lambast the other parties that had given us cashgate and other excesses of the democratic era.

That allure is gone. A running mate alone can’t fixed that but by settling for Mia of the same old establishment he once attacked, Chakwera’s pragmatism has made full circle.

Next year, Chakwera will find out, alongside the rest of us, if his party—and own transformation—has been received positively by the voters and whether, finally, MCP’s exile from power can come to an end.

Next year, however, is Chakwera’s last chance at getting State House, in Mia, he must pray, he has thrown a winning gambit

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winston msowoya
winston msowoya
3 years ago

SHAA,I deduce that you are an oxy-moron literally you do not know what you are writing.Malawians have not been stealing the MCP VOTES but rather,have not been voting for the murderous MCP and comes 2019,MCP will not be voted to lead the government as usual.Shaa,how far have you gone with your education to write such gibbberish? What you must know is that all indipendence Parties for instance,UNIP of Zambia,KANU of Kenya,TANU of Tanzania,UPC of Uganda have vanished from our Continent for the rest of our lives.So bear in mind that,MCP is a gone case so to speak.Iam not sure whether… Read more »

winston msowoya
winston msowoya
3 years ago

Malawians,Arab Mia or no Arab Mia,MCP will never win againg in Malawi elections after 32 years of bloody rule under Hastings Banda(MPHONONGO).Mind you,MCP was the deadliest regime in Sub-Saharan Africa worse than Idd Amin’s Uganda and Mobutu’s Congo.It is MCP that brought or introduced tribalism in our country that led to unpricidented brutality against the Northerners who will never forget about the Confussionist Party(MCP).Who would deny that Chakwera abandoned GOD IN FAVOUR OF LEISURES on EARTH.I strongly plead with the Northerners not to betray the souls of our heroes in the names of Dunduzu K.Chisiza,Yatuta K.Chisiza,Kanyama Chiume,Orton Chirwa,Rose Chiwambo,Pemba Ndovi,Lutengano… Read more »

Jolex Samson
Jolex Samson
3 years ago

Chakwera will triumph. No math exists against Mcp in 2019

3 years ago


Patrick Phiri
Patrick Phiri
3 years ago

Chakwera’s inability to resolve MCP problems, especially those related to primary elections, raises many questions than answers about his leadership competences. Some of his own MCP members have sought court interventions because he has failed as a leader to address the challenges. He is too weak to handle national challenges.

3 years ago

Congress next year yowinawina
Izi zigwileni… 2014 munatibera ndeeno lero muziti tikuvotereni ?????

Apumbwa 1 and 2

3 years ago
Reply to  Gertrude

Iwe ndife fisidi azanu akiliki kumenya inu ndi yimba yoti anatibela,wukhesele ma voti a chakwela, mavoti a joice banda, uwokhesele mavoti atupele upeze total number nizingati? Umbuli kuziwa kuwelengesela chifukwa kukhalila kulila

3 years ago

choosing mia as a runingmate for chakwera is not a wrong choise because chakwera is trying to rock some of the serculating rumours of making coilation with other party such as pp utm and even afford. this means that he has mandate that they can make it own their own, but chakwera didnt refuse any combition with other party they are most welcome

3 years ago

Who wrote this article? Malawians I want you to learn one thing TRUTH dziko lathu lidzakhala bwino..

Kunena moona MCP yakhala ikuberedwa ma vote. The last General election THEY LOST DUE TO MBENDERAS EFFECT.

If mr mbendera was honest MCP could have won, and he could have been alive (RIP) bad people killed our brother mbendera.

MCP Ma election onse yakhala ikubrredwa NOT THIS TIME AROUND, I REPEAT NOT 2019. TIDZAWONANA, Malawians are tired are waking up

3 years ago
Reply to  Shaa

So UDF stole votes from Kamuzu 1994
So UDF stole votes from MCP 1999
So DPP stole votes from MCP 2004
So DPP stole votes from MCP 2009
So DPP stole votes from MCP 2014
Who is going to steal votes from MCP 2019?

MCP have a reputation of not guarding their votes. They should employ a reputable security company this time.

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