It was an alliance that came with political pomp, loud fanfare and ceremony. Even the BBC billed it as “a grand alliance”. Now main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM Party, who signed an electoral alliance last month, are going to field its presidential candidates as the union has fatally collapsed.
But a political alliance is not just the coming together of parties. It is the political chemistry that happens inside. As UTM Party leader Saulos Chilima feared, “Mgwirizano ndumenewo. Koma mumgwirizanomo tizigwirizanamo?”
The collapse of the MCP, UTM alliance is now only waiting for an official announcement as both MCP presidential hopeful Lazarus Chakwera and Chilima are going to fill nomination papers for the fresh presidential elections on their party banners.
The collection of the papers by the two leaders is a culmination of moves that have demonstrated that this is an alliance that never was.
When MCP and UTM entered an electoral alliance last month, analysts described it as a stillbirth; a marriage of inconvenience between partners that are ideologically different from each other and deeply do not like each other.
However, the pomp and fanfare at the ceremony where they signed the alliance in Lilongwe, there were already serious indications that this alliance was never their script. As it became learnt, it was something forced upon them by the judges in the election case.
The first piece of evidence of this stillbirth was this: Up to 9am on the day of the signing ceremony, Chilima had still not made up his mind whether to go to the ceremony or not. He only turned up to the function for fear of embarrassing Chakwera with a last-minute withdrawal. It was a presence for public politics only but not the spirit of an alliance.
Since then the two leaders and their followers have not worked together at any level.
The two leaders have not conducted any political activities together.
And where each one of them has engagements, there is no reference whatsoever of the other partner.
It is even worse for the collection of the other briefcase parties that are said to be part of the alliance. They are outcasts, clapping hands from the fringes of all this.
The MCP/UTM alliance has collapsed for a number of reasons.
The alliance is rocked by egoism of Chakwera and Chilima as each of them want to lead the alliance.
This stance is even shared by their parties. Chilima’s followers have dug their heels in on this. They say, in public and bluntly, that Chilima has been vice president all along. He cannot therefore be running mate again to Chakwera.
“It’s either Chilima leads the alliance or there is no alliance,” they have said.
On the other hand, Chakwera’s followers argue that Chilima’s UTM, with only 4 MPs [ now they have added one fron independent benches to be five] and around one year old, is a party of no consequence to provide a leader of the alliance.
In addition, Chakwera himself does not even imagine playing second fiddle to Chilima. The battle lines are clearly drawn.
Then, there is also the question of serious mutual distrust between them. MCP are wary that Chilima can betray them as he did with DPP which gave him the vice presidency.
His ambition for the presidency make them fear he could plot to elimante Chakwera as he has been doing fighting President Peter Mutharika.
On the other hand, UTM fears that should the alliance win the election, MCP will exact its brutal nature on UTM and decimate the political party.
This is an alliance where each of the partners is suspicious that the other party wants to ride on their back to victory and then jettison them once the desired end is achieved.
In any case, this alliance was never going to hold because it was externally driven by the judges in the election case.
The five judges are known to be anti-DPP and part of the conspiracy to topple the government.
Their judgment has come into question worldover as more of a political statement than an act of law and justice.
Their operating principle has been judicial activism, a term coined by one of the judges Redson Kapindu – where judicial activism means the judiciary being part of the conspiracy to remove democratically-elected government.
In the execution of their plan, they delivered a highly opinionated judgment that avoided the laws and contents of the petition.
It was a judgment that sought to grant the opposition the instruments to wrestle power from DPP.
They did so by, among other things, issuing a raft of directives to Parliament, an independent arm of government, to enact laws that would give the opposition leverage.
The bills have failed. The alliance has collapsed. The script was botched. The judges have been exposed.
Obsessed by their so-called judicial activism, the judges failed to understand that politics operates differently.
- All views expressed are those of the author and should not be taken as reflecting the views of the Nyasa Times.