The announcement by Bingu wa Mutharika’s sibling Peter that he has thrown his hat into the ring for the 2014 Presidential election makes sad reading.
Besides, it also marks a sad chapter in the democracy of our beloved country Malawi. The announcement comes at a bad time when Malawians had high hopes and expectations that in Bingu and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government democratization of our country was going to be strengthened.
Bingu’s promise to strengthen our democracy when he took over power in 2004 may only have been a farce now that his actions are totally tangential to the promise.
When Malawians stood up against the dictatorship of the late real Ngwazi Kamuzu Banda, having been subjects of an arrogant, murderous and absolute tyranny, they voted through a referendum in June of 1993 to usher in a new constitution with an Executive Presidency who will be the first among equals and who will specifically be subjected to the same laws as the general citizenry. Through the referendum, Malawians clamored for a Presidency deliberately and specifically with limited terms and curtailed powers. In furtherance of this idea of Executive Presidency, first and foremost and above all, Malawians created an oath of office which pledged all public servants to especially the Presidency to “… support and defend the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi”.
This aspect of the constitution has been followed to the letter since then and those who tried to rape and defile our constitution and otherwise impose their own sinister dark agendas on the general populace fell flat on their faces, never to rise up again up to this day.
This brings to fore attempts by Bakili Muluzi early in the new millennium to run for a third term of office through the Third Term Bill. Malawians of all walks of life united and showed unprecedented disproval and vocal opposition to this and the then governing United Democratic Front (UDF). Embarrassed and defeated by the people, Bakili could only tag his tail in between his legs and withdraw the bill which aimed at giving him further terms in office other than the constitutionally mandated two terms which Malawians had voted for during the referendum. The power of the people like in 1993 prevailed and those who thought could rule Malawi with impunity were left with egg in their faces.
Last weekend’s announcement by Peter Mutharika to bid for presidency is in essence yet another crude attempt by deceitful, ungrateful politicians who are now bent to extend the Presidency of Bingu wa Mutharika and thus slide this country back to the dark era of monocracy like under the Kamuzu and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) era.
The motivation for the Presidency by Peter Mutharika is not only strange but uncomprehendable too. Had due process of selecting the torch bearer for DPP in 2014 been followed surely l would not have been wasting acres of Nyasa Times space writing this article. However, as all of us by now know, the candidacy of Peter Mutharika is a creation of his brother and is not borne out of the suffrage of the DPP rank and file. There are sinister agendas behind it all.
Sadly today like yesteryear, the country is once again faced with a situation where the incumbent Bingu wa Mutharika does not want to give up power showing an inclination to move in the very same backward, self destructive path Bakili Muluzi trod demonstrating an insatiable contempt for both the laws of the land and the electorate. Peter’s announcement is none other than selfish attempts by Bingu aimed at prolonging his Presidency by proxy via his young brother Peter Mutharika. However, the message is the same today as it was in early 1993 and 2001, Malawi will never be a Mornachy again and never will there be any place for autocracy in this country.
Bingu’s plan will fail and it will fail big time. Malawians cannot be hoodwinked by such cheap political machinations.
No amount of money will buy Malawians’ sovereign right to determine who leads them in Government. Malawians have matured immensely politically and democratically since 1993 and they shall never ever again allow a single entity to usurp their sovereign powers to choose who leads the masses. Bingu wa Mutharika is grossly mistaken and has totally miscalculated that Malawians can move back to the years of dictatorship by voting his brother into office. I however stand to be corrected if it is not the same Malawiansof yesteryear l know. The quicker this can sink into Bingu’s thick skull the better for him when there is still time for him to do the right thing and let democracy thrive within his own DPP party and the Malawi at large and grant the general populace their right to self determination. Anything other than that is sure to fail.
This calls for all Malawians from all walks of life blue, orange, green or yellow, tall, short, gigantic, educated or illiterate to understand that today more than ever before Malawi is once again at the crossroads and in danger of sliding back to autocracy. It needs all Malawians to understand that we have a fight on our hands, a struggle which can only be fought in unison. As Malawians we are not monolithic, we are a diverse group belonging to different political persuasions, ethnic groups, different localities, different religious groupings, but nonetheless agree that there is evil and wrong doing in the intentions of Bingu and DPP and thus this country cannot be allowed to slide back to autocracy.
Malawians should brace to put a stop to this madness threatening our country and we should all join forces to defend the dignity of Malawi against the tyrannical rule of Bingu and his DPP.
Bingu has made big enemies during his term of office and his actions to impose his brother for the Presidency are informed by none other than a motivation to secure his bacon when he steps down in 2014. Besides, Bingu has a lot of explaining to do then on how he became overnight one of the filthy rich Malawians in the country with vast property interests locally and abroad. The undeniable wider public perception is how he has amassed this big fortune in very unclear circumstances since his ascendancy to the Presidency when only a few years before he was almost living a pauperish life after his disgraceful exit from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
Unlike Muluzi who sought Bingu to protect him after office, Bingu has instead chosen to let it run in the family and allow his sibling to stand in for the DPP in 2014 so that he remains untouchable up to 2024 when he would be probably 90 years old, frail and senile to withstand any rigors of a court trial to question his time in office if he does not get an early calling from his creator the Almighty then.
Malawians committed to democracy should start coordinating efforts to bring an end to the madness about to confront our country. It is time for progressive Malawians regardless of religion, party affiliation, region or wealth to join efforts to defend the dignity of Malawi against Bingu’s tyrannical rule. Confronting an entrenched system like the DPP will not be easy and we all have to contribute in our small ways to make sure that we end this tyranny which is about to develop come 2014.
There are two possible ways it can be done in Malawi. This however is not a strait jacket affair other options can always remain open for consideration.
Firstly, the United Democratic Front (UDF) alone cannot unsit DPP, neither will the Malawi Congress Party (MCP). The rest of the political parties are of unknown political quantities. lt is therefore important that the entire opposition fraternity in Malawi starts to find common ground before 2014 on how to launch a joint winnable campaign against this tyranny and save our Malawi from sliding back to dictatorship.
I should hasten say the very first option to unsit Bingu is through a coalition. Now is not really the time trying to explain or justify the need of a coalition in order to give Malawians the chance to take the country back but time to come up with a deal to bring all the political parties under one tent. Our major opposition parties should make bold concessions which should bring about a winning coalition as all the parties from the UDF to the MCP to the PP, the Petras etc are at the moment at their lowest ebb and cannot give the DPP the run for their money.
Failure to do so will only perpetuate DPP rule in the country and believe me now it will certainly deliver the death knell to opposition politics in Malawi for a long time to come. At the rate things are going it will be inconceivable to be stuck with a DPP government for another decade.
To this end, opposition parties will have to surface a number of critical issues important in finding a concession to give the opposition a deal for a united front. These issues include identifying a compromise presidential candidate from the outside of the coalition members deputized by at least deputies split equally between all the three regions and amongst all the major parties.
The candidate will have to be a middle ground politician who represents a clean break from the past. The tenure of the coalition president will be limited to one 5 year term after which each coalition member will be free to field their own respective candidates in 2019 having safely secured the country from the monstrous DPP whose kingpins will be safe and neutralized behind bars for the looting, corruption and murders visited on our country today.
The period 2014 – 2019 being the governance phase of this coalition can be used to restore and strengthen our democracy paving way for free and fair elections to be held in 2019 or 2020. Cabinet posts would be shared according to ratios depending on the number of Members of Parliament (MPs) each coalition member would have got while where possible non-constituency MPs would also be considered to strike a balance.
I should hasten say there is no standard formula for coalitions. Every coalition is unique and the agreement will be for the politicians to thrash out and agree and put together for purposes of dislodging the DPP from power.
The second option which l am however not keen to entertain is coming up with a new political vehicle other than the status quo as this will only tend to crowd the already small political stage and thus help fragment the vote and give the DPP a win on a silver platter. This political vehicle like the coalition above demands for a compromise candidate but will certainly have to seek the support of the current opposition parties who may not be willing to lend it out. This is as good as forming a new political party altogether and may as well field its own candidate without the help of the other opposition parties.
Our destiny as a country is today in our hands for us to shape and each and every Malawian is a player with a common goal to make our Malawi better as we strive against the man made challenges the country is suffering today. Our problem today is poor leadership which has been shown by none other than Bingu wa Mutharika and his henchmen and women. It is against this backdrop that Malawi today that ever before needs leadership of good qualities and best intentions.
But as we prepare for polls in 2014, opposition leadership must realize that they have our collective destiny at stake. Whatever they are going to decide to do against Bingu wa Mutharika and his DPP will leave us either better or worse off from what we are today. The ordinary populace is ready and willing to make a difference with their votes. As we painfully recall, even sob over the series of problems bedevelling the country today ¬¬ – fuel shortage, drug shortages, forex shortages, murders and intimidation – as a result of the poor leadership built solely around personal aggrandizement, we have to ensure that we all register and go out and vote in 2014 and ensure that only a credible, listening, candidate is ushered into Government.
Our Presidential candidate should not be an imposed individual of dubious character and unknown quantity like Peter Mutharika but an individual which we Malawians shall freely choose; a candidate guided by our clear reasoning and decision as any mistake we make this time again will drag us back to the dark, shameful and unacceptable days which we are trying to escape. We are players in the Malawian project and by our choice of President, we shall in no small measure, help to create the Malawi of our dreams, the Malawi of our future, the Malawi for our children and generations to come or otherwise elect the wrong leaders or party to drag us backwards and down into theabyss.
Good leadership, fearful of their people and above all fearful of the Almighty God, the story of our country will change and we will transit from the almost pariah state we are today to once again a prosperous Malawi who shall witness transformation in all spheres of her life. With good leadership, leadership of integrity with altruistic leanings unlike Bingu and his henchmen, the sad past of massive corruption, embezzlement, murder, insecurity, tribalism, economic and political drought will simply be rewritten for a better and prosperous Malawi where we shall once more be proud of our Mother Malawi. The international community, amongst them Britain, Germany, the Americas and others, our neighboring countries Zambia and Mozambique will surely have no reason to treat us with condescension like they have done during Bingu’s reign. We will deserve better.
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