Considering that in 2014 President Peter Mutharika and the DPP were in the forefront of discrediting any political survey that suggested that then incumbent president Joyce Banda was the most popular presidential candidate and destined to win the 2014 elections, I would have thought that the DPP would today warn anyone against taking political polls seriously.
Incredibly, now that the tables have turned and the DPP is desperate to boost up a rapidly dwindling morale, suddenly foreign political surveys are the thing to be promoted and spread about on MBC radio and television, especially because for some reason, the survey claims that Peter Mutharika is popular and is likely to win the election 2019.
Back in 2014, there was a very good argument why any political survey promoting the popularity of Joyce Banda was not to be taken seriously. As a matter of fact, the facts that were obtaining on the ground then regarding Joyce Banda’s People’s Party (PP) and her short presidency are the very same facts that are obtaining presently with regard to Peter Mutharika’s presidency and the DPP. By 2014, the Joyce Banda euphoria had waned and Malawians had become disillusioned with a presidency that was steeped in corruption and with its eyes fixed firmly on looting the public coffers to fund a looming election. The very same facts are true today. We have a presidency that has steadily become hugely unpopular because of sheer failure to demonstrate any kind of performance and competence, and a party determined only to press forward personal and political interests instead of national ones.
Such were the facts that made any serious Malawian political commentator back in 2014 to strongly disagree with any survey that tried to popularise Joyce Banda. All Malawians knew that as far as Malawian were concerned, “Amayi” was not popular and that any survey suggesting the opposite was quite simply an insult to Malawian intelligence.
The results of the elections were the proverbial eating that was the proof of the pudding. Joyce Banda was not even the second most popular candidate in 2014. She was third.
Fast-forward to 2018, and a desperate DPP is trying to repeat history. It is now the DPP seeking to cheat Malawian public opinion by offering results of political surveys apparently conducted by foreign institutes.
But there are very good reasons why no Malawian should take such paid for popularity stunts seriously.
Of course it is not wrong to seek to portray public opinion with political surveys as long as they are conducted using accountable statistical methods to meet the needs of a party’s or a candidate’s internal needs. The problem is, the surveys Malawian incumbent parties try to rely on are often done sloppily. Samples are obtained recklessly, with results being rigged accordingly to the order paid. This is intolerable.
They deliberately want to deceive the public.
Our politicians today are employing this despicable method to gain popularity. They hire survey institutes for billions of Kwachas to jack up their electability. There is a saying in politics that “With money, you can be popular”. This is the motto of these political survey tactics.
It is a shame that the DPP, having deplored the Joyce Banda regime in 2014 for the same tricks, it is itself deploying the very same tactics ahead of the 2019 General Elections.
For my fellow Malawians wondering how to tell whether to take a political survey seriously or not, and whether to truly rely on the results, the following can be a helpful checklist:
It goes without saying that faced with fierce competition from an MCP that actually came very close to winning in the last elections, and now also from the hugely popular Saulos Chilima movement, the DPP is clutching at straws to try and maintain morale and boost up its popularity.
It seems the DPP failed to learn the lesson from Joyce Banda, who wasted so much time and money buying popularity and yet lost the election.
Perhaps the real concern we should have about surveys that claim that Mutharika is popular is not so much the claims they make but rather the fact that such useless efforts are paid for by the taxpayer.
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