Malawi ruling PP should deal with defectors cautiously

It is now a foregone conclusion that the door into the ruling People’s Party (PP) is permanently wide open now. Even President Joyce Banda has personally called upon those who want to join to do so without any hindrance.

Though it is right and proper to receive people from other parties but the procedures involved should not defeat the purposes of branding the party in good light.

Yes politics is a game of numbers and new members bring joy and added stamina to any political grouping.

However, the problem, arises when those defections are in the top tier of the party. If a Member of Parliament defects from their party to the ruling party, there are many issues involved.

For example, after the demise of Bingu wa Mutharika may of his reliable cronies jumped ship to Joyce Banda’s camp even before she took oath of office of the President. Weeks later it was the hullabaloo that Sidik Mia caused when he defected from DPP. His move rocked the existing structures of Peoples Party in his area as he claimed that he had brought with him thousands of supporters who would not be left out of the local committees.

Defectors - fortune seekers
Defectors – fortune seekers

Then came the Wakuda Kamanga defection which observers said had come about because he had large sums of debt to settle with the country’s housing utility, Malawi Housing Corporation.

This was followed by the shifting of Goodall Gondwe and it was viewed with doubting eyes as well as he still has skeletons in his wardrobe for awarding of government contracts without proper procedure in 2005.

Latest is the defection of Rev. Christopher Ngwira whose move has been attributed to seeking asylum from the ghosts of embezzlement of money meant for Local Development Fund (LDF) projects in his area.

I have no issues with Goodall Gondwe, Wakuda Kamanga and Rev Christopher Ngwira joining the ruling class. However it leaves us with many questions than answers when their defection brings to a halt investigations into their past deals.

In addition, whether it is the way we do politics we all know that some of the people who were in the forefront insulting Joyce Banda are the same who are singing her praises today. Day in, day out; they called her by derogatory names and encouraged Bingu to do her extreme damage at any arising opportunity.

Joyce Banda might be an experienced politician but I think it is not naïve for me to remind her that she must tread carefully in her dealings with these people who are defecting to the party she founded. The list includes Zikhale Ng’oma, Frank Tumpale Mwenfumbo, Etta Banda, Green Luwilo Mwamondwe.

Not that she had to start the party with all of them but caution needs to be taken when roping in new members and they must be given time to prove their dedication to party work. That is why movements like Communist Party in China first orient new members on their philosophy for months or years before they are accepted into the mainstream system.

Fairly, every other Malawian opposition politician can just wake up and decide to work with the government of the day because that is what looks fashionable these days among political persons. But we can agree here that the reasons for such defections and joining are more financial than service.

Allowing people with doubtful pasts to join PP will brand it as a party of sinners and that is not good for its standing as the country heads to the 2014 polls.

Let the ruling party put the right mechanisms when accepting defectors especially those from the former ruling party. It should therefore filter out those with grey areas so that they first clear the mist through proper institutions such as the courts of law.

If they defected out of fear or greed, they can also walk out the moment another opportunity rises or the courts clear them of any wrongdoing.

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