Recipe for civil war in Malawi? Chakwera should rethink his ‘complaint’ approach

People often want to complain about something but in most cases, they are not sure anything positive will happen when they complain. Others do not actually know how and when they must complain and to whom, in the first place. Many people believe that making a complaint actually won’t make any difference, that nothing will change, so what’s the point complaining?

Well, president of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and leader of the opposition in Parliament, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera is an exception. He complains when he feels like complaining. The only problem though is that he may not know how to complain; when to complain; and whom to complain.

For example. Chakwera recently pushed a missive to the diplomatic community in Malawi regarding alleged ‘electoral misconduct’ by some governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials ahead of the Nsanje Lalanje parliamentary by-elections.

The constituency fell vacant following the death of its parliamentarian, Sam Ganda, earlier this year. Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) set October 17, 2017 for parliamentary by-elections in Nsanje Lalanje as well as in Lilongwe City South East Constituency. The latter became vacant through a court order following a legal complaint by MCP’s Ulemu Msungama over the May 2014 results, which were in favour of DPP’s Bentley Namisasu. The courts ordered a re-run.

Six weeks before these crucial by-elections, the ‘political gymnastics’ between the main contesting parties, DPP and MCP, have began. The political temperature promises to rise much higher in the ensuing days.

Chakwera, according to the letter, claims that the life of Lawrence Sitolo, MCP’s candidate in Nsanje Lalanje, is in danger, alleging DPP officials are persuading him to withdraw his candidacy through financial inducement. He claims that DPP promised Sitolo K100 million cash offer or a diplomatic posting with cash makeweight of K50 million in exchange. Additionally, Chakwera alleges that some DPP officials have made phone calls to Sitolo, threatening to ‘eliminate’ him if he does not play ball.

DPP members allegedly behind the enticement include businessmen Leston Mulli and Noel Masangwi, DPP southern region boss, Charles Mchacha, and Local Government minister and leader of the house in parliament, Kondwani Nankhumwa.

Chakwera said MCP is “seriously concerned” about the threat posed to their candidate and seeks immediate intervention of the international community in the matter. They believe the matter is “a recipe for anarchy and civil war in Malawi”.

Whether or not Chakwera’s claims are genuine, I have an overwhelming feeling that the MCP leader jumped the gun in handling this sensitive matter. According to its ‘mission’, MEC is an independent constitutionally mandated and impartial institution, which “shall professionally deliver credible, transparent, inclusive, efficient and cost effective elections to promote and entrench democratic values and peace in Malawi”.

As President of the largest opposition party, Chakwera certainly knows that under Malawian laws, parties and all elections stakeholders must always lodge their electoral complaints with MEC.

Alternatively, Chakwera should have reported the matter to police if indeed the life of Sitolo was in danger instead of rushing to the diplomatic community who would, at best, refer back the matter to local authorities for resolution.

Chakwera may wish to rethink his ‘complaint’ approach and take advantage of MEC to address his concerns pertaining to Nsanje parliamentary by-elections.

The Mia factor

The by-elections in Nsanje election are very crucial and unique in some respects. There may be a high probability that Chakwera may just be creating a hype to his own advantage.

Not so long ago, Chakwera welcomed into the MCP Muhammad Sidik Mia, the self-acclaimed Lower Shire political giant, at a rally in Chikwawa. Mia’s coming to MCP has split MCP down the middle. Some members of the MCP, including MCP vice president and speaker of parliament, Richard Msowoya, secretary general Gustav Kaliwo and estranged spokesperson, Jessie Kabwila, think that Mia used his financial prowess to convince Chakwera and bulldoze himself into the party.

Under these circumstances, Chakwera cannot imagine MCP losing in Nsanje, Mia’s supposed political bedrock. It would be a personal embarrassment both to Chakwera and Mia. MCP members who have always questioned their ‘unholy marriage’ would take advantage of the loss to disparage the two ‘friends’.

Conversely, if MCP’s Sitolo wins, it would mean that Mia is the ‘real deal’ and that would boost his standing within the MCP ranks. The victory would throw all Mia’s detractors off balance.

DPP, MCP litmus test

The stakes are much higher in these by-elections, which may probably be the most competitive and ‘acrimonious’ of all by-elections since 1994. The by-elections will act as a litmus test for both parties as regards their chances of winning the 2019 general elections.

Chakwera is well aware that DPP will put in all the resources and energy they can marshal in order to seal victories in Lilongwe and Nsanje by-elections. MCP will therefore respond by unleashing all its political ammunition, including ‘mind games’ and propaganda, in order to defeat the ‘enemy’. Letters to the diplomatic community (not MEC) shall be part of the larger strategy. It will be a battle of titans.

If the MCP fails to win these by-elections, chances are high that the party may also struggle to win the general elections in 2019. It will mean riding back into opposition, for another five years; 30 years in opposition since the dawn of multiparty democracy in 1994. Sounds scary!

Donors don’t win elections; voters win elections.” -Jeff Sessions

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Kaitano
Guest

USA and UK has agreed with Dr Lazarus Chakwera, now what next Thomu?

Keen Observer
Guest

Well balanced analysis & truthfully narrated. Why international community for the safety of a candidate? Why can’t MCP simply organise private security for their candidate?

martin
Guest

THOM was used to stand for the truth in those days but now his truth is DPP, shame on you, isn’t this very nyasatimes that reported that a police officer was beaten up by dpp cadets at Tsangano turn off a few months ago?

Yumyum
Guest

Nonsense

Nansani
Guest

Chakwera will loose both ie bye-elections and the convention. Trust me, chakwera will not make it at the MCP convention. He has proven to be a very bad and misleading leader.

Achi
Guest

Chakwera ndi deal.

You don’t complain to a partisan institution if you are sane. What a calculated approach!

Bristone Mabichi
Guest
Chakwera is right and he has done a good thing to relieve the pressure. It is not only him, people have been insulted and its a matter of time we don’t want such to happen in Malawi. “Until Jesus comes there shall be no president from the north” and another religious leader recently on Times TV said “people in the north they like making noise”. Never underrate Chakwera’s remarks. Yatuta Chisiza, came at a wrong time. I think this was his time. Now that is past, it is not only the north, visit places like Neno, even Phalombe and hear… Read more »
Omex70
Guest
I can’t agree with you Thom. Chakwera has done the right thing by reporting the matter to Diplomatic Community. Whether the Diplomatic Community throws the matter back to local authorities or not it doesn’t matter. The most important thing is to report the matter to independent bodies not partisan groups like police who are independent on paper but partisan on the ground. Everybody knows that a DPP supporter can assault a person in the presence of the police and no action can be taken by the police. The only language that the police can utter to bluff the people is… Read more »
Ngalamayi
Guest

When you live in a country where speaking your mind and presenting an opposition can result in all sorts of ‘accidents’, where so-called independent bodies are influenced by those with the most power and money, where all trust and faith in keepers of the law is fast disintegrating, you have to take out very strong insurance. That’s what Chakwera is doing: protecting MCP’s candidate. If any ‘accident’ befalls him, the international community and Malawians will already have been warned. If official methods could have worked, I’m sure Chakwera would have used them.

Maine
Guest

True

AAlex
Guest
You are a good writer. However, every time I read your articles they sound pro DPP. Am not sure if you’d agree with me that the chances that there would be no action if this matter is reported to any institution in the country. Police, MEC or whatever. The MAFIAS behind Mutharika would do anything to make sure they remain the ruling party for ever. Not that they want to help the poor Malawian in the village, but for them to continue benefiting for themselves and their families. BAD people. I feel sorry for our president. He could be a… Read more »
Maine
Guest

agree

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