Truth, and this will certainly itch and prick, must be told—at least now that the political status quo gets more and more exciting, as the once dreamy May 21 tripartite elections is now just a stone’s throw away.
Already, the tumult can be felt; but most of all, the issue of running-mates that has become a bone of contention in all the contesting parties except, of course, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) where we all know Muhammad Sidik Mia is pastor-turned-politician Lazarus Chakwera’s right hand man.
The other parties are graveyard silent on the matter. None of them wants to come out of their cocoons soon despite that it is a requirement (pursuant to s80 (3) of the Constitution of Malawi) [by pollster Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC)]. Well, it could be that they are taking their time. After all, they have until February 8.
But we will not talk about the quagmire that is hanging over the politics of running-mates in this article, nor will we ‘impose’ it on certain parties. No. We will decisively look at the big picture—the overall national vote and what have been the trends; at least, since the ushering in of multiparty democracy.
And, we will start with the first things.
Since 1993, when Malawians said enough of the black cock was enough and unanimously voted for multipartyisim—or democracy—Malawi has been governed by the United Democratic Front (UDF), the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the People’s Party (PP) [thanks to some misfortune that happened in those three mad days of April 2012]; and, again the DPP.
In 1994 everyone knows and attests that the Alliance for Democracy (AFORD), now relegated to a personal enterprise and in need of rescue and deliverance, spiritual or political, was a force to reckon with. Good people, this was a party that swept all the 33 parliamentary seats in the northern region under the tutelage and leadership of fallen trade unionist and political czar, Chakufwa Tom Chihana. This party championed the liberation of the people of this country from bondage, the undisputable epitome of democratization in Malawi.
It is said, and on record, that had all variables remained constant prior to the 1994, we would be reading a chapter of how AFORD governed this great nation in our history books. But it is never the case for Atcheya must have played his cards well.
But, maybe we not brood over spilt milk, and should forget such unfortunate things and focus on those that may be rewarding. In this case, study how the trends of our country’s general polls have been. Achebe, the fallen Nigerian literary great, writes in his short story, Civil Peace, that ‘nothing puzzles God.’ But in this contest we will have no choice but to say there is something puzzling about the northern region.
As Rudo Tariro, a columnist on this publication, wonders: why has the northern region not yet produced a president yet it has some of the most intelligent people in the land? Or as we would better want to ask: why has the northern region not yet produced a president and yet they are overly loyal to their parties and this great nation?
And yet, it is the northern region that beefed up the MCP vote in the 1999 general elections when AFORD partnered with the former. Let us fast-forward to 2009. Bingu wa Mutharika took Joyce Banda as her running-mate, and there was a DPP landslide—probably never experienced in the history of this country. The thing is: people from the northern region are exceedingly loyal and a listening lot. When Joyce Banda said she was married to them in the name of former Chief Justice Richard Banda, northerners shook their heads in agreement.
In fact, they voted en masse for the DPP—the popular DPP then. The northern region assumed they were part of government. Sadly, things table-hopped when Bingu ridiculed northerners like some piece of garbage.
When, may his soul rest in peace, Bingu died [in those three days in April 2012,
Joyce Banda ascended to the high office with Khumbo Kachali as the country’s second-in-command. Well something happened prior to the 2014 polls: Kachali was left out for running-mate in favour of youthful and charismatic Sosten Gwengwe. Of course, truth must be said that with Kachali’s scandals, Amayi had no choice but to throw the guy from Edingeni out of the picture. But the northern region, saw something wrong there. With their own [Kachali] out, they had their reservations on Joyce Banda and her PP. At the time Kachali, just weeks before the first ever tripartite polls in this country, joined the DPP. What happened? Landslide for DPP, with PP trailing only third.
So, we will say it again, all these parties that are up for the presidential elections come May 21 need someone from the northern region—a running-mate from the northern region—to make it. And, to these parties, especially the DPP, which has a precedence of how the northern region has helped them, it would be suicidal if the region will be left out—just like that.
The thing is that it is high time that DPP put off the cloak of bigotry and segregation and consider rewarding a region that has been very loyal to them. It has been the swing state for DPP’s electoral success. So it is prudent and political maturity and wisdom for Peter Mutharika to identify a running mate from the north. It is about time regionalism should be out of the matrix of the way we run our politics. The regional vote, particularly the north must be taken for granted anymore. The North, good people, is and will be a decider in these elections.
And this is food for thought for all the parties this year.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :