MCP – UTM agreement: Is the proof of the pudding in the eating?

As the noise on the VPs’ name appearing on Sattar ledgers, and the associated electoral agreement issues off-shooting from the conundrum begin to douse down, there is a sharp voice piercing through the pandemonium and all legitimate opinions.

Whilst we have limited foresight on what type of a trail the ACB will leave in the aftermath of the VP-Sattar issue, a lot of us have had the liberty to surgically analyse the MCP – UTM agreement – as the nation momentarily stood in a dilemma.

President Lazarus Chakwera interacts with Vice President Saulos Chilima during the 58th Independence celebrations at BICC-pic by Lisa Kadango Malango

The purported agreement between the two establishments was cemented with the drive to win an election at all costs. The recent public fallout between the two parties demonstrates two fronts in the whole saga. As some quarters of the society have alluded to, we have the moral front, and political fronts.

The moral front is that, if true that the agreement was reached with a ‘rotational’ clause (as specified by the VP), we may want to believe that the two establishments entered the agreement in ‘good faith’, even though, as pointed out by other commentators, the arrangement has no ramifications, constitutionally.

From the moral perspective, the agreement and all other associated auxiliaries thereafter bears the thinking, and the belief-system of the parties involved. The fallout also reflects the character of the parties involves.

As the saying, ‘power reveals people’ goes, the fallout has demonstrated, to Malawians, that both parties in the agreement are but for accumulation and control of power. The fallout is testament to the very DNA of the industry in which the parties in the purported agreement represent.

An apple doesn’t fall far from its tree. The fact that for a long time the agreement was kept under wrap, from each other and all of us, is reflective of a game of politics of foolhardy played on each other and all of us. Even though there has been a public display of reconciliation between the parties, morally, the seeds of mistrust have been sown with this fallout.

The political front of this conundrum is from the fact that politics is a game of numbers. For example, the main opposition party in parliament is identified from the party, which did not form government, but has a larger number of members in the house.

Likewise, for parties in any coalition, the party with the largest members fields a leading candidate in an election, whilst the party with the least numbers takes the supporting role.

In fact, the world over, the practice still remains such. For example, in Australia, the partnership between the Liberal Party and the National Party (commonly called the LNP) has been in existence since 1946 and has continued almost uninterrupted since then.

For all those years, the Liberal Party (party with the largest numbers) has always produced the leading candidate in an election year, and the National Party has offered to deputise. Equally, the UK Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition in 2010–15, led by David Cameron and Nick Clegg as deputy, is another of many such examples.

The minority in the coalition would not have filed a leading candidate if they were to go to an election anytime. The recent French elections also gives a very candid example of similar arrangements and the undeniable power of numbers in politics.

However, we should also agree that people should also be free to pursue their personal ambition, as well as feed their ego and dreams. Should the VP feel he has an entitlement, as a citizen, to pursue his presidential dreams, he is within his right.

We know his work ethic despite being found compromised at this point in history – a revelation which has many a citizen disappointed and feeling stupid. The caveat to the VPs quest for running in 2025 is the recent commentary from renowned legal minds suggesting that the current VP has no constitutional basis to run for presidential office – in reference to some legal interpretation on terms of office.

On the other hand, with the President freezing delegated powers from the VP, it will be hard for the office of the VP to deliver utilise any of his dreams and skills, within the remaining constitutional period he is left with.

Let us hope that his is not an egotistical ambition to the presidency, but rather out of servitude, and he would be willing to be of service to the nation, sharing his insight, in any other manner and capacity in the future. As it stands, the VP needs re-calculating his role.

Politically, supposing the agreement in existence will hold, and provides a leeway for the VP to lead the coalition, there is potential for the MCP to suffer damage. Agreement such as these are done in a political environment, which is never void of political gymnastics.

In the event that the VP successfully bids for the presidency, his party – which is in minority will gain the opportunity to exponentially grow in strength.

Does anyone remember how the DPP build itself up fast, as soon as its founding president had all the instruments of powers in his hands – as soon as he moved out of the party that sponsored his presidency?

For sure, with a UTM President in power, there will be massive ‘floor-crossing’ of the serial akadzigulire, – building up numbers for the party. With the purported agreement lasting for only 10 years, it will leave the UTM with an open cheque book after 2025 – since the current agreement will have elapsed.

In the current set-up, the MCP will be back as the ‘opposition’ party whilst in government, scrambling to be relevant – having failed to utilise its numbers in the agreement arrangement.

Unfortunately, it is the people that will pay the bounty price, and a nation that will continue getting trapped further down the rabbit hole.

It is now up to the President and his vice to satisfy Malawians whether they want to play politics, chase personal dreams, or that they strongly believe and know that occupy those roles on behalf of the people and to change the decades-old predicament the country has been in.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

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