That former Minister of Agriculture Dr. George Chaponda has a burning ambition to become President of Malawi is now becoming crystal clear. That his ambition is for selfish reasons and not out of any genuine desire to serve Malawians is also well documented.
However, Chaponda’s presidential ambition appears to be so powerful to the point of blinding him to the prevailing political realities in Malawi.
The way he is playing his political end-game is as though the world is a static place with only him progressing and mobile. He is very much stuck at old politics and regards Malawians as unthinking robots that cannot reason; that can only operate based on how they have been programmed. Chaponda’s political end-game has taken some funny twits, particularly after he has been cleared on ‘Maizegate’ charges; he thinks he has a new lease of political life to resume his presidential ambition.
Chaponda, who prides himself as political bulldozer, uses his friendship and proximity to President Peter Mutharika to convince his friend to hand over power to him (Chaponda) after the end of his (Mutharika’s) first term.
All along, Dr George Chaponda has been scheming and positioning himself to take over from Mutharika, but regarded Vice President, Saulos Chilima as his biggest threat and his major stumbling block to achieve his ambition. He secretly engaged a campaign to damage the Vice President by, among other things, creating rumors that Chilima was undermining the President’s authority by using the Civil Service Reforms to promote his own (Chilima’s) candidacy.
This was the reason why Mutharika made the decision to withdraw the Civil Service Reforms from the office of the Vice President to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC). Another scheme by Chaponda was to make Chilima appear a failure and political novice. For example, in the Mchinji by-elections, which were held in October 2016, in which the Vice President was in charge of the DPP campaign, Dr George Chaponda supported the opposition candidate including providing him with promotional campaign materials.
This was a deliberate scheme to give a chance to the MCP candidate to win the by election (and this is indeed what happened). After the DPP loss, it was Chaponda and his crew who went to Mutharika with a ‘we told you so’ story about Chilima. The idea was to make Chilima appear a political failure and one who cannot and must not be given the DPP presidency. By so doing, Chaponda thought he would also increase his chances of being nominated by his friend (Mutharika) to be the next president of the DPP and this country until Maizegate came on the horizon.
The Maizegate scandal in which Chaponda allegedly connived with some local Asian traders through their Zambian affiliates to inflate the prices of maize for their own benefit practically threw spanners in the works of his ambition and everything screeched to a halt. Things were made worse when the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) found millions in local and foreign currency in his house whose source could not be explained, and also when the commission of enquiry instituted to investigate MAIZEGATE found that there was criminal intention in the purchase of the maize on the part of Chaponda.
It was now clear that the public viewed Chaponda as a thief who cannot be trusted with any public office and demanded his firing from Cabinet. Although it had to take some pressure from some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Chaponda was eventually fired from Cabinet and prosecuted by ACB. He hired a team of lawyers and journalists to help in his defence and to spruce up his image in light of his presidential ambition. At this point, his image has already suffered irreparable damage no way he could have recovered.
A few weeks ago, the Zomba magistrate court ruled that Chaponda has no case to answer on MAIZEGATE, scenario which has given the former Minister of Agriculture a false sense of relief to ignite his presidential ambition. A week ago we read in the media that some MPs are agitating for Chaponda’s comeback as Leader of House because, according to them, he is the best and loved by a majority of members in the august house.
To be Leader of House, one has to be a Cabinet Minister, which means the so-called MPs are also indirectly calling for the re-instatement of Chaponda as Cabinet Minister. Another question that is also interesting is whether the so-called calls for Chaponda to take back his position as Leader of House are really genuine and coming from Members of Parliament. So far, all indications show that the calls are manufactured and could be just a product of some high-handed political game played and funded by Chaponda himself.
In the first place, who made the calls for Chaponda to come back? Who were the MPs that actually voiced those calls? Were they opposition or government MPs? The report did not mention any names or quote any MP expressing those sentiments; it only quoted anonymous sources. They were only meant to manufacture the need for Chaponda to come back where there was actually none.
Chaponda thinks his clearance by the court is his blank cheque to do what he want, what he is forgetting is that he has done more damage to the DPP than he realizes. Chaponda’s stump is all over the DPP; he is the one believed to be behind the terror campaign the party is actually unleashing on its opponents, particularly members of the DPP who are calling for Vice President, Saulos Klaus Chilima to be the party’s torchbearer in next year’s elections.
The party’s image is so bruised because in the perception of the public, Chaponda is still guilty of ‘stealing maize’ and the jury is still out there in the court of public opinion. It will take time for the public to forgive Chaponda even though he has been acquitted by the magistrate court in Zomba.
Others may dismiss Chaponda’s presidential ambition as just one of those things; a normal ambition of a single DPP member. This is however not a normal ambition because the biggest casualty has been the DPP; you do not need to go very far to know that the image of the party has substantially suffered due to MAIZEGATE; Chaponda’s political machinations and scheming for the presidency is the reason why the party is suffering one of its worst internal fights today. He is the one who has single-handedly taken the party to this lowest moment, and he is not the one who can come up with a recovery strategy. The DPP must quickly find a solution to fix the ‘Chaponda cancer’ or keep him at the key seat and sink.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :