October 17, 2017, the day set aside for what might be the last by-elections in this administrative term will have a very long night.
By the morning of 18October, either President Arthur Peter Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), or Dr Lazarus Chakwera and his main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP), or possibly both these fellas and their partiescouldbe having another think.
Forget about the contestsfor ward councillorships also scheduled for the same day. If truth be told, no one can be faulted forlikeningthemto minionstasked to help a king get drunk.
All eyes, Blues’ Orators, are on the battles for Lilongwe City South East, Lilongwe Msozi North and Nsanje Lalanje Constituencies.
For the record, the contest for Lilongwe City South East has pitted Ulemu Msungama (MCP)againstDr Ruben Ngwenya (DPP); in Lilongwe Msozi North:Bruno Daka (DPP)is scuffling withSosten Alfred Gwengwe (MCP).
Just like theward by-elections aremere gofershelping a king on a drinking spree when compared with the Parliamentary races, the Lilongwe Parliamentary contests are chicken-feedwhenmatchedwith the ultimate contest in Nsanje Lalanje Constituency, where DPP’s Gladys Ganda and MCP’s Laurence Mark Sitolo are at each other’s throats.
Just what is at stake?
The DPP seems as good a party as any from which to cut to the chase. With Africa-Confidentialrecently echoing Afro-Barometer’s prophesy of doom, DPP is panicking.
It badly needsa win, if not wins.
Crossing the floor to MCP, the stakes are equally high if not greater.
If MCP is to continue claiming supremacy over the central region,winningthe two parliamentary seats in Lilongwe is mandatory.But then again, Lilongwe is not the MCP’s deal-breaker.
MCP’s deal-breaker is the Nsanje Lalanje by-election where an MCP win will vindicate pro-Mia apologists and could potentially arouse wider interest in the party in the Lower Shire and votes in 2019.
These, Blues’ Orators, are no small stakes.
Shifting gear to the bigger picture, if MCP were to win all three constituencies, the statement: “MCP hasfinally arrived” will ring loud and clear.
Knowing DPP, losing Nsanje Lalanje,not to say all the three constituencies will mean going back to the drawing board, and perhaps sending a few pistol-touting cadets to Kenya to acquaint themselves with the latest tricks before disaster strikes in 2019.
Where would this leave you and me?
A DPP loss, for you and me, would result in two scenarios. Either Mutharika would wake up, stop mumbling and begin belatedly fulfilling the DPP manifesto.
Hasn’t Area 23 already forgotten the incessant black-outs?Such a shock would be good for mother Malawi.
But, can MCP pull it off?
However, DPP being DPP, after reading the writing on the wall, looting as has never been seen before would be the order of the day.
My guess is that we would witness a mix of both:‘development’ would commence, BUT with a lot of borrowing from China burying us all deeper into bankruptcy.
Now, what would happen if DPP were to win all three or oneLilongwe constituency plus the deal-breaking Nsanje Lalanje?
I will begin with the deal-breaker.
An MCP loss in Nsanje Lalanje, never mind the excuse(s), will mean Siddik Mia has been oversold when he is a mere empty tin making a lot of noise.
Given that Chakwera and Mia are inseparable for reasons I won’t dare to speculate on, the anti-Mia faction in MCP would have its agenda cut out and become bold enough to tell Chakwera “Wetoldyouso!”
With a convention on the cards sometime next year, there is no telling who would contest against Chakwera, decampaigning him in the process that his love of the ‘new and rich’at the expense of the ‘old but poor’ is why the party’s southern region strategy is like the Biblical house built on sand.
Whether this would be fair or not, it would stick because when push comes to shove, it is Chakwera who has distorted the pecking order not only down South by giving Mia more prominence than the party’s elected Second Deputy President Donald Lombola and the estranged Secretary General Gustav Kaliwo, but in every department in MCP.
To sum up, aDPP loss or losses in the LilongweConstituencies will be tolerable for the party; DPP’s worst nightmare islosing Nsanje Lalanje.
Were I an MCP operative, I would keep my eyes open because fear of embarrassing lossesmeans DPP is and will use all tricks in the book to win one in Lilongwe and the Nsanje seat.
After all, didn’t Joseph Stalin say ‘those who vote decide nothing;those who count the vote decide everything’?
Flipping the coin to the MCP side of things, it cannot afford to lose any of the seats in Lilongwe. Doing so will open the floodgates for DPP in other constituencies in the central region, and giving DPP more traction in the Central Region is the last thing MCP needs.
My money, if you ask me, is onthe Nsanje battle.
If MCP success will be attributed to the“Mia factor”;it followsthat an MCPloss in Nsanje should also be attributed to the same.
This is only fair because political ‘born-again’ Mia, in his own words,set the Nsanje by-election as the litmus test for his self-claimed gargantuan stature in the Lower Shire.
Should MCP lose in Nsanje Lalanje, the rebels who have been baying for change from within will be vindicated. It will mean Chakwera’s trump card – Mia – is a huge miscalculation plus a costly gamble;and this would raise questions about Chakwera’s judgement.
Blues’ Orators, let us pray that peace should prevail during and after the by-elections and that the Malawi Electoral Commission will let those who cast votes decide the winner.
Behold October 17, 2017: a “D” day in no small way!Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :