Road to 2014: When and whence cometh a ‘David’?

Imagine if you win, a grand prix. This Grand Prix features an assortment of models of different makes, ages, colours, engine capacities, configurations and designs. One lot of these cars is, for various reasons, racing in very rough terrain – a pothole riddled road, or may be something worse: the Dakar Challenge if you know it; while one car – one car alone – is cruising on a well serviced highway, in the same competition.

What will it take for the cars battling it out through via rough terrain to outpace the car that is cruising on the well serviced highway in this race? Assume that there are no external forces, and everything depends on the drivers’ dexterity, what would it take for the rough riders to outrace the smooth rider?

This is the situation in Malawi today with respect to the race to 2014. The rough riders are so far all male. The smooth rider is the sole female – but gender is not why she is having it relatively easy – there are other factors that came into play, chanced her onto the smooth highway and are keeping her there.

Daza and Tembo: Battle for MCP leadership

Since she is driving on a well maintained and a clear highway, she does not have to do much. She just has to pace herself and stay in contention. Politically, she just has to make the occasional statement, steer clear of blunders, and well, sympathy will do the trick – and she will hit the home run, free. This driver is Mrs Joyce Banda, the Vice President of the Republic of Malawi and the interim president of the People’s Party (PP).

On the rough terrain are Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Professor Peter Mutharika, MP – the current Minister of Foreign Affairs; yet to adopted the United Democratic Front (UDF) Atupele Austin Muluzi, MP.; John Zenas Ungapake Tembo, MP. cum President of the Malawi Congress Party and leader of Opposition (for life?); and last but not least, Chris Daza – Secretary General of the Malawi Congress Party.

Since she is driving at maximum speed, without any quagmires and on a smooth highway, Mrs Joyce Banda, believe you me, does not need to say or do much. Staying focussed, making the occasional well-timed and public-sentiment resonating statement; steering clear of blunders; and continuing selling herself as a woman of the people, will see her in Sanjika – the final destination and the grand prize for this grand prix.

Quite a lot, with or without love, from Ndirande or elsewhere, has been written about JB – so I will let her be. After all, a politician who seems incapable of making mistakes is not worth writing about. Attempting to write bad things about such is pursuing the same futility faulting Jesus for walking on the sea – a pun, and not blasphemy, is intended here.

Do you know the meaning of this pun? It implies interpreting the fact that Jesus walked on water because he could not swim!

“Jesus Can’t Swim!” would have been the headline in the “Nyasa Times” of those times.

But look at it this way: how many people can swim, and how many can walk on water? What should the headline have said? This, is the folly that those that waste time writing bad about JB do. So, I refuse to join them. Call me names if you want.

Again, this is the same madness that the DPP makes. And this is why she continues to walk on “water”. If you substitute the water with a pothole-free highway; and again substitute this highway, with a sympathy wave – you get the point am trying to get across.

The ones that create and sustain the sympathy wave are the ones that provide the water, facilitating the water-walking that people are marvelling at.  But as I said, I will not write about that.  It is the other lot that are the subject matter and objects of discussion. And, Ladies and Gentlemen, here we go:

We begin with Professor Peter Mutharika: No one could have put it better than my brother Nyasa Times columnist with the uncanny ability to see beyond the corner. By this, I mean Garvey Karvei in his article titled “The Mutharika Brothers: Sibling Rivalry or Divine Intervention?” carried by Nyasa Times ( on October 13, 2011. Put simply: Bingu is a huge liability to Peter’s bid for 2014.

Then we move on to Atupele Austin Muluzi: When Dr Nga Ntafu and Associates went viral against his candidacy, people were questioning Ntafu and Company’s sanity and aligning themselves with Atupele despite the fact that these followers cannot tell us what the “Agenda for Change” is all about. Now that Ntafu has inexplicably done an about turn, people are asking questions.

Is Muluzi junior, they want to know, “a political engineer” like Muluzi senior or are these  the works of senior: which would mean that the junior is firmly under the armpit of the senior. By the way, in this context a “political engineer” is one who uses resources and tactics, financial or otherwise, clean or unclean, fair or underhand, to change opponents’ point of view and loyalty and recruit them into one’s camp. I will stop here for now.

Moving on we come to JZU Tembo:  Whatever happens in Zambia, it has been said, replicates itself in Malawi. If Sata vs Rupiah Banda is anything to go by; Sata, a veteran politician and to be honest, one gone past his best-use-by-date, recently made it to Zambia’s equivalent of Sanjika Palace. People are saying that this has prompted JZU to re-think of his chances along the lines of Joel 2:28

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:”

…and JZU, is dreaming of Sanjika, under the delusion that this prophecy will come to pass in his favour!

Chris Daza, a politician cum evangelist has on the other hand, held on to the same prophecy. His cut, the part that refers to young men seeing visions. His vision is that come the MCP convention, he will be chosen to go on road to 2014.

Described above, are not reasons that I would consider and come to the conclusion that the men above have big issues to address, before they can convince any one that they are and they have what Malawi needs.

The thing is, all of them have been part and parcel of mediocre systems. One could argue that so has JB, but the difference, the key thing the sets JB apart, is that she said, “No” when most of these men, in similar circumstances, would have been cowards and would have clapping hands.

What more evidence do we need? Don’t we all know one Ken Kandodo; who has chosen to blind himself to the high-powered gossip and is talking hullabaloo about loyalty and all the usual trash fired ministers give us?

JZU never said no to the MCP evils, Peter Mutharika has yet to show a backbone against his bullying brother. Never mind the story of Peter refusing to have Bingu’s face on Malawi’s legal tender. I, for one, I never bought that one. That was a well leaked fabrication meant and designed to portray Peter Mutharika as a person who can say “No.”

Not that Peter Mutharika cannot say “No.” Am not saying that, but the thing is when his big brother says “Yes” he too says “Yes” and the opposite is also true. The man is not original, he is a yes man, and he will not become original overnight in 2014 for the simple reason that blood is thicker than water.

Coming to the “Agenda for Change”.  For one, this is nothing new. I have heard it before. You chanted it with much vigour, hope, expectations and anticipations in 1994.

 “Zinthu zatani? Zasintha! Ndikuti zinthu zatani? Zasintha!”

Now, can anyone stand up and name: one thing, just one little thing that changed? So what will this “Agenda for Change” change? We have been there before, we have seen it before, and we heard you chanting this before: Please spare us the claptrap and come up with something original.

And Chris, my good friend, other than taking over the MCP what do you offer? Youth? Who apart from JB, JZU and Peter are not young?  I can even bet that the majority or even 99% of the people reading this are younger than you. So, what is it that makes you different or someone worth lining up to vote for? One hint for you brother: what is missing is the message, the ideology, the philosophy and the new way of doing things. Spell these out and we will start talking.

As for JZU, please spare yourself the embarrassment and retire. Let others continue the game. You did your part, retire and we will thank and respect you. But if you insist on holding on to the bitter end; we will deride you.

To sum up: the race to 2014 features an assortment of players. All these share one thing: a glaring poverty of solid ideas on how they will turn around Malawi’s fortunes. The men are more handicapped, they are carrying undesirable excess baggage from their history (JZU), brother (PM), father (AM), and as for my friend Chris, unless he comes up with something; he is just spoiling for a fight. Even if he wins, the trophy will be in pieces and like “kaunjika wapa Kampepuza” – the tatters will be irreparable. And his stance only makes sense is he has been hired by someone to sow discord in MCP.

Mrs Joyce Banda, thanks to Bingu and the DPP’s bumbling approach to any crisis, large or small; and their capacity to create heroes and heroines out of molehills, is so far leading, but the billion dollar question is: where is she going to lead us to?

With respect to the race to 2014, we are, as a nation, in a vicious circle as far as leadership is concerned. We are like builders faced with the task of building a magnificent home with poorly burnt  and broken bricks; expired cement; dried out mortar; highly advertised but irrelevant construction hardware, and empty tins whose best use is to make noise.

Nevertheless, my brothers and sisters we should do not give up. A David will rise from amongst the twelve sons and daughters of Jesse. Or to pick another biblical parallel, providence will tell show us how to make a beautiful coat from rags, like Joseph’s mother did.

Country men, I wish you well as you ponder this write up and I will see you when you get there, if you ever get there that is.

 *Wise One from the East – written for Nyasa Times

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