Presidential quandary on the road to 2014 Malawi polls and recent cabinet reshuffle

Imagine you are Her Excellency President Joyce Banda; and that you are President Joyce Banda around this time when Malawi is heading towards a make or break tripartite election.

What would be on your mind?

President Joyce Banda seems to be saying “Who can I trust?”

You would, naturally, be concerned whether the people around you have as few skeletons as possible, that they are capable of forming a working team capable of weathering the determined opposition challenge and most importantly, most of them being certified gold diggers, you would be concerned if they can really, really be trusted.

The trust or lack thereof comes twofold. First, you would be wondering whether they deserve your trust and worse, whether the electorate, who have seen the migrant lot change party colours and switch allegiances like underwear, will take them seriously.

Pres. Banda  and Kachali; Would they run on same ballot paper in the presidential race?
Pres. Banda and Kachali; Would they run on same ballot paper in the presidential race?

But then, in Chichewa we say: mwana akalilira nyanga yamsatsi msemere, or in English, you can only reap what you have sowed.

In this regard, President Joyce Banda, having invested a fortune in a political recycling industry, she cannot expect to produce anything other than recycled “products” and “by-products”, the later locally called Madeya.

Nevertheless, out of this madeya, you would want to surround yourself with madeya dedicated and motivated enough to garner enough votes in the populous and to be hotly contested southern region, so that central and northern votes can only be used to cushion a victory or as a fall-back position.

The good news and this is all the good news there is at this time; is that you would not have to show your cards by way of naming a running mate any time soon.

This would be somewhat helpful. It would keep everyone in line. And using the old age gimmick of divide and rule, she could hold a calm before the storm.

You would encourage everyone around, even the most hopeless cases, to think they have a fair chance at the number two slot; given the fact that no-one said and nowhere is it written that Right Honourable Khumbo Kachale is a “vice president for life”.

In this context, or rather, this context somewhat explains the recent cabinet makeover whose objective, as has been seen, was to mainly to “empower” Brown James Mpinganjira with ministerial perks and facilities so that he can battle it out in the tricky Lhomwe Belt.

In life, very few things come on a silver platter – and of course there had to be collateral damage.

Aged Professor Mwanza and others have paid the price. They have now joined the ranks of “former” minister so and so. “He has been”, “she has been”, and “they have been” will now precede their names.

But then, for every action, there is a reaction and this is what this article is all about.

Brown James Mpinganjira’s ministerial resurrection means that he now counts himself among the number two possibles; something that has not gone unnoticed by Mr Khumbo Kachale and the other contenders.

But seriously, who is President Joyce Banda’s favourite or rather who would you choose in her shoes, since we are role playing here?

The higher a monkey climbs, they say, the more he is exposed. This is the story of one Khumbo Kachale.

Drunk with power, he called Malawians names when they were politely requesting “listening” President Joyce Banda to slow down on her voyages.

Again, in Mponela and by implication in the central region, the povos have not yet forgotten the mattresses that disappeared to reappear in his home.

I will leave this at that, lest people misconstrue my mission as to further decimate the right honourable’s already precarious chances. Going in his mind right now is: if I am not picked, of what relevance am I going to be?

This leaves in the north, Dr James Munthali (Agriculture Minister), Mrs Catherine Gotani (Health Minister), Mr Enock Chihana (Youth), Mr Ephraim Mganda Chiume (Foreign Affairs) and my good Facebook friend Ralph Kasambara SC.

The last two share one a common problem. The president is, by marriage, a Tonga. Ralph is a Tonga, and the same applies to Ephraim.

Now the president a “Tonga”, running mate a Tonga? Would this look good? In the least, it would be unwise.

Therefore in contention from the north are Dr James Munthali – not so well known, Mrs Catherine Gotani – the drugs shortage incubator, and Mr Enock Chihana. As to their chances?

No one knows.

This means that President Joyce Banda has to look to the centre or even further south.

Before analysing the People’s Party’s (PP) own, let us digress. There have been deductive articles, notably from my good friend, the esteemed Garvey Karvei, arguing how wonderfully the Banda and Tembo clans have intertwined, enjoying a symbiotic relationship, since April 2012.

Apparently, the sudden turn of fortunes of the previously dejected and jobless Tembos, under President Joyce Banda’s watch – has triggered rumours that the opposition leader and President Joyce Banda are cooking something.

John Tembo: No to rigging tactics
John Tembo: Any pact with JB?

Now let’s sober up a bit, lest we be found hasty.

It is every day that one’s son, straight from the unemployment bureau, gets a diplomatic posting. From a UB40 to a diplomat. This happens all the time.

It is perfectly normal that on top of this, around the same time, one’s in-law, also lacking salaried employment becomes a commissioner at the Electoral Commission.

And again, it is by mere coincidence that one’s nephew is appointed, around the same time, Board Chairman of ESCOM.

All these things happen every time, everywhere, and people should not read much into them unless they are, what is the word? “Haters”.

Even the Leader of Opposition throwing away hard-hitting speeches in parliament and singing the Laudate, allegedly as a result of these fluky appointments, is pretty normal. Happens everywhere, all the time. And what’s more you and I do it all the time!

Does this sound right? I am asking you.

Now to these coincidences, add the “loan” of Binton Kuntsaira to assist John Tembo rape the MCP constitution and retain the presidency.

What do you make of it?

At any rate, in politics, discounting and writing off such events as “coincidences” would be a mistake. The problem, if this alliance is indeed true, is that the young Turks bent and intent on making Honourable John Tembo “former” president of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) are a determined lot.

Sooner or later, they will find formulae to push him aside, and that will be the day when the men will be separated from boys, the pretenders from the real deals and the “kapirikonis” – to use MCP parlance, from the genuine MCP types.

And without a party base, despite the constant shifting of goal posts; Honourable John Tembo is useless if not an outright burden to President Joyce Banda.

Bottom line is: President Joyce Banda should look within PP or to the east. Within PP, She could consider loud and uncouth Uladi Mussa (Home Affairs); Sosten Gwengwe (Industry and Trade), Ken Kandodo (Defence) just to mention a few.

I will leave it to you to debate and advise her.

Brown James Mpinganjira: going places, or a dispensable item?
Brown James Mpinganjira: going places, or a dispensable item?

What about the south? Phoya? Mia? Maseko? Jooma? Kunkuyu, Kalinde? Mpinganjira? Lipenga?

What about in the east? Wise One?

I will start with myself. If and only if anyone wants an “Edward Snowden”, then I am their man. Anyone desirous of stashing a few billions in secret offshore accounts has no business coming near me. I will sing so loudly that the whole wide world will hear about it.

Moving to the South: Phoya – looks tempting, but he is more useful in parliament. Lipenga? An alluring prospect, but more useful in other ways. Maseko, Jooma, Kunkuyu, Kalinde? I do not know them that well – but the little I know renders them chicken-feed.

The VP walks like a duck! Oooh Yes!

Sidik Mia. Now we’re talking.

Money, the Muslim connection with its possible election funding, the lower Shire votes etc. Mia has it all.

But, and this is a very big but. But has President Joyce Banda in truth forgotten that Sidik Mia is on record telling a Lower Shire rally that her Excellency walks like a duck?

“A Vice President amayenda ngati bakha!”

This was Sidik Mia, in the good old days when President Mutharika was alive. And hell, they say, has no fury like a woman scorned! We are yet to see a tit for that tat.

Who have I forgotten?

The VP walks like a duck! Oooh Yes!
The VP walks like a duck! Oooh Yes!

The odds, ladies and gentlemen, are in favour of multi-talented and near-impoverished “pastor” Brown James Mpingajira.

The question is: even with Democratic Progress Party (DPP) still clueless as to how to mitigate the damage caused the blistering billions gracing front pages of the major dailies every day, does Brown have what it takes to make a dent in the DPP stronghold called the Lhomwe Belt?

It’s a tough call to make, nay, a huge gamble; not even that a potential disaster.

Betting on Brown could bring someone not joy, but misery. And this is why, for all her swagger, bluster, outward confidence, false bravado and what have you, I doubt if President Joyce Banda is sleeping peacefully.

To rub salt onto this wound, the moment she makes her choice known, the landscape and dynamics within the PP will dramatically change. Friends will become foes, rivals will become friends and enemies will evolve into the best of buddies.

This is not a very nice situation to be in.

Life at the top is easier if you have loyal and constant people around you. Due to the works of her own hands my president is nursing a chalice of poison. Point is: my dear president has amongst her twelve disciples, eleven Judas Iscariots and wolves in sheep skins.

I wish her well as she juggles her unpredictable recycled lot, reaping exactly what she sowed.

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