MCP and Chakwera: Political arrogance or electoral confidence?

On the very first day of this year, I suggested that as Malawians, our hope for the future, politically and economically, lay in understanding the role that President Joyce Banda has played in destroying the economic and political fabric of our country. As I reflected on the trials and hardships that Malawians have had to go through because of the clueless and shamelessly corrupt administration of President Joyce Banda, I called upon all Malawians to unite to restore the hope of a better Malawi that many have lost because the Cashgate scandal, and the rampant looting.

Why am I highlighting the Cashgate scandal? Because it is the best example to underscore the injunction of impunity and callousness that the leadership of Joyce Banda has imposed on the people of Malawi, capitalizing on their docile and resigned attitude to matters that are so critical to their lives.

Cashgate is the damning evidence of Joyce Banda’s callousness and impunity because public resources were plundered through organised crime with the head of state herself supervising the orchestra. It is unlike the kind of crime where lesser people colluded to steal from the public pursue out of moral inadequacies. This theft of public resources was sanctioned by President Banda, and she went about positioning people, to raise money for a political campaign for this year’s tripartite elections.

Chakwera:  MCP president
Chakwera: MCP president

In other words, Cashgate is a well-calculated, well-supervised theft of public resources to fund the People’s Party with Presidential authorization.

It still remains my conclusion, drawn from a careful analysis of the political terrain, that Malawians can no longer afford to remain in the comfort of reckless abandon that has featured in our character and attitude as one administration after another have plundered the economy and built personal fortunes off the shoulders of poor, hard working Malawians- from the Press corporation under Kamuzu Banda, to Joyce Banda’s Cashgate fortune, replete with a host of corruptly built mansions and business empires in between.

In 2014, and even beyond if Malawians are not careful, the biggest menace facing Malawi’s survival is its own president, the Janet Bond of the cashgaters, Joyce Banda.

As I argued for a united opposition against Joyce Banda’s looting and clueless leading of Malawi, I had hoped that Malawians would recognize that perhaps an even bigger menace facing Malawi as elections draw closer would be an opposition too greedy and self-centered to find ways of working together with the noble aim of fighting the common enemy in Joyce Banda.

My fears were justified.

Recent statements by the larger opposition leaders in Malawi, United Democratic Front, Democratic Progressive Party, and Malawi Congress Party reveal that the opposition in Malawi is more interested in pursuing private, personal agendas than the agenda that would benefit Malawi at large.

In this article, I will discuss the MCP. It is the MCP that has been most vocal in pursuing the agenda of tarnishing all the other opposition parties vigorously, and promoting itself as clean and therefore more to be trusted by Malawians.

The truth of the matter is that the MCP is not clean at all. Indeed, if the appropriateness of a party to govern Malawi should be based on that party’s history, whether concerning corruption or human rights abuses, the Malawi Congress Party’s record in these areas is the worst of all and should be discarded hands down!

The party’s leader Dr Lazarus Chakwera has in the short time he has been leader of the MCP already demonstrated dictatorial tendencies, embarrassing himself and the party on several occasions by appointing people without consulting them and expecting them to accept simply because he is the mighty MCP leader.

The MCP record may be in the relative distant past compared to the quite recent histories of the DPP and the UDF, but the party’s eagerness to throw stones at their fellow opposition parties betrays its greed for power as these tactics ignore the enduring fact that the MCP is itself living in a glass house that John Tembo and Kamuzu Banda built with corruption, human rights abuses, and indeed the very blood of innocent Malawians that were fed to crocodiles, killed in staged car accidents, and banished from Malawi as dissidents to die in foreign lands.

Arguments against UDF’s Atupele Muluzi, and DPP’s Peter Mutharika, founded on their predecessors and the records of their parties are ill-advised and hypocritical because the same argument can be directed at the MCP and its new leader Dr Lazarus Chakwera. For the common denominator for these parties is that they are all led by individuals who have not themselves tasted the presidency, although the parties themselves have had that opportunity, and thus have a history that Malawians can remember.

And MCP’s record is in fact worse than that of the parties it is attacking. The fact that the MCP has chosen to use badges and party official cloth with Kamuzu Banda’s portraits might lead a critical observer to conclude that the new MCP they scream so loud about is in fact founded on the principles of the old MCP, which were founded on the four cornerstones of Repression, Autocracy, Corruption, and Human Rights atrocities.

Suffice it to say it is the new MCP in the old image of Dr Kamuzu Banda

As for the new MCP leader, Dr Chakwera, I have already alluded to his dictatorial tendencies. Dr Chakwera has been very vocal about corruption, attempting to make it his campaign buzzword. Yet in this attempt, and in using allusions to the Kamuzu slogan and branding Cashgate the “stupid corruption”, Chakwera comes across as a man without any ideas of his own. It seems the eagerness to invoke the Kamuzu name is because he has no faith in himself, and that even his followers prefer a dead man Kamuzu instead because they do not believe in him.

Or would Chakwera do without referring to Kamuzu?

Chakwera has demonstrated inherent tribalism and a belief that elections will be won by just concentrating on one region. One needs only to take a look at his National Executive Committee to see the truth in this statement, as there are no indications of national unity in the MCP NEC. He has failed to depart from the policies of Tembo that made MCP a regional political club.

Regarding the corruption rhetoric that MCP and Chakwera have tried to make the flagship of their campaign, it is important to note that no ne in the DPP or the UDF has been mentioned by name in the current corruption allegations. If it was the case, we know that PP would have wasted no time in making the forensic audit report available to Malawians. The report has been smuggled in the middle of the night to the IMF because no one in the opposition has been linked.

In using the allegations concocted by the People’s Party to attack its fellow opposition parties, MCP and Chakwera demonstrate that they are no better than Joyce Banda, that Chakwera, the so called ‘clean man’, is prepared to use unverified accusations to damage the reputation of his competitors, forgetting the corruption that was in MCP itself, which was not just corruption but murders and oppression of the highest order. Hence Chakwera demonstrates that he is a man who is ready to speak without letting the rule of law take its course, just like Joyce Banda.

A leader who cannot take responsibility for the log of heinous atrocities of the MCP, a man who is not ready to renounce the legacy of plunder and blood which his party presided over, does not have any iota of moral higher ground to remove the specks in the eyes of the DPP and UDF.

MCP would do well to understand that this is no time to attack its fellow opposition parties but rather look at ways of working with them. MCP should bear in mind that if we are to go by records, there is no government in Malawi with a record as terrible and damning as the MCP’s.

The fact that Malawians seem to celebrate the party does not suggest they have forgotten about the blood and freedom of theirs and their relatives that the party sacrificed to perpetuate its rule. It is their helplessness and desperation to have the Joyce Banda regime disappear that is making them try to clutch at any straw like the blood stained MCP.

Malawians are bleeding. They are looking to their alternative leaders in the opposition for redemption. The least they expect is arrogance from anyone of these opposition leaders to let them down by behaving in a manner that will give Joyce Banda a chance to barely scrape through.

Greed has already let this country down in the last 50 years. To lift this country from the dungeons of despair, Malawians need leaders that are ready to trade in their egos with the need to have unity of purpose.

Malawi needs leaders who realize it is not about self, but about the general good of Malawians.

A crook that is Joyce Banda is fighting to remain in office. And will do so to the last drop of her blood, not because she has the welfare of the people at heart, but because she would want to circumvent all chances that after her loss she should be held accountable for the mess she has caused this country in the less than two year she has been in office.

In making sure that the viper that is Joyce Banda does not wake up, she must be sorted out with the certainty that the unity of the opposition provides.

It is for the sake of the country.


Z Allan Ntata is a Barrister at Law and a practicing lawyer and worked as Legal Counsel to the President of the Republic of Malawi, Dr Bimgu wa Mutharika and Executive Secretary to the Malawi National Advisory Council on Strategic Planning. He also worked as a Lecturer in Law in Australia, and as a Prosecutor with the Malawi Anti-Corruption Bureau.

The Author of  Trappings of Power: Political Leadership in Africa

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