Lesson from Malawi’s ruling People’s Party convention

Talk in town is around the recent convention of the People’s Party (PP).

In ways more than one, it is a rarity in the history of multi-party Malawi.  Orchestrated and stage-managed with finesse that would have made Dr. Kamuzu Banda envious, it has lifted the bar a few notches higher.

By any measure, it was a resounding success. And for a nation whose faith in political parties has been waning, it has revitalized hope.

If all political parties could go through the same frequently, transparently and without intimidation; intra-party democracy might yet stand a chance in Malawi.

PP-redefining elections

The convention saw the election of office bearers that will shape and drive the agenda of PP. And since PP is currently calling the shots, their successes and failures will affect the lives of all Malawians, regardless of their political affiliation.

President Banda at the convention. Photo Nyasa Times

The extraordinary thing is that newcomers, in as far as PP’s short life is concerned, dominated and have since displaced founders.  Perhaps not so surprising is the fact that the so called new-comers aren’t new at all.

They are mostly the same old faces: and they purr like Toyota Corollas that have been reconditioned, not once but twice even thrice. They will start well, then falter, and then back to the garages at Malangalanga.

But let’s not pursue this – after all recycling, if applied to protect the environment could be good for the nation. Before completely letting go, however, this blatant recycling (by the convention delegates) could be interpreted as:

  • evidence of the degree of maturity in this relatively new party;
  • meaning that the founders were “madeya” to the bone;
  • a sign that PP is on its way out, it has fallen victim to the ultimate schemers and ranking opportunists.

It’s true that innovative ideas, new ways of thinking and inventive ways of doing things must substitute old ideas, timeworn thought processes, and outdated practices.

In this regard, it could be that the founders, now rendered ordinary members, had run out of steam, therefore they had to be let go or that they failed to muster public support because of past discretions.

But, on the other hand, most of the brand new second-hand lot that has now commandeered PP can’t claim to be saints or indispensable geniuses at running party or government affairs.

Some of them have “owned” political parties before, and others have served other political parties in similar roles, without much success.

At best, they have blindly endorsed even poor government policies, and at worst they contributed to bad policies and laws.

But to be fair on everyone and not to spoil the party too early into the night, let us all hold our peace and observe what they have up their sleeves.

The good thing is that elections in May 2014 will not be as easy as a stage-managed convention – therefore someone, somewhere must deliver!

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