Recently it came out in the media that United Democratic Front (UDF) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) want to formalize a governing pact . This is probably to create a deep rooted alliance. It is believed that UDF has even written the Speaker of Parliament to re-organize the sitting arrangement so that UDF members of parliament can sit together with DPP on the government side.
What UDF and DPP are trying to do is nothing new. Since 1994 Malawians have seen all manner of political party alliances especially when preparing for the elections. If the alliance now is aimed at winning the 2019 elections then it is very unfair to the people of Malawi. DPP has been in power for less than a year and not even started to deliver. Then why think of the next elections so early?
Honestly speaking, party alliances have hidden agendas which no one wants to talk about. What political leaders tend to deliberately forget is that the coalitions are contradicting with the whole purpose of having a multiparty democracy. It is needless to say that Malawians opted for more parties so as to get diverse views on national issues before decisions are made rather than simply toeing the party in power.
Past experience has shown that in most cases party coalitions are a decision by the top leadership. They claim to have consulted the party members. This is usually not the case. The obvious benefit from the coalition seem to go to the leaders as they enjoy the spoils of government and get special protection.. The weaker party spice up the coalition by some meaningless statement that they are in coalition because it is the best way they can serve the nation. This has been said countless times but there is nothing to write home about. What they deliberately forget is that the alliance is not on equal terms.
There is no way the weaker party can come up with policies and expect the stronger party accept and use them. For example DPP is in power and it has its own ideals and policies to follow. It is very doubtful that opinions from UDF will carry the day.
In fact, most Malawians can remember so well how Late President Bingu wa Muthalika , the founder of DPP was tactfully forced out of UDF in 2005. Now, the same UDF is crawling back to have an alliance with DPP. It is true that there are no permanent enemies or friends in politics. It is also equally true that DPP and UDF coalition cannot be very genuine because they cannot openly discuss issues while at the back of their minds they recall how Bingu was thrown out of UDF.
It should also be stated that from past experience coalition of parties just destroy weaker parties. Aford is a good example.
It can also be mentioned that the Malawi parliament is now showing some maturity in terms of debates. The government cannot just assume that it will be saved by its coalition members to get Bills pass. MPs really scrutinize Bills and if there is need to throw them out, they do so. Instead of coalitions, MPs should just learn how to lobby support by coming up with sensible arguments, failing which people will always be suspicious about the motive of party coalitions.
It is undeniable that in Malawi politics leaders seem to still want one party rule hence a ruling party tries to coax other parties to join it. Malawians voted for multiparty democracy in 1993 and leaders should bare this in mind. Parties should phase out just because of poor management not that they are being swallowed by a party in power.