The case of the Alliance for Democracy (Aford) leader, late Chakufwa Chihana, is the best political saga that has existed since the post-colonial politics of Malawi.
When Chihana, resorted to an open political defiance against Dr Kamuzu Banda’s (the lion of Malawi) tyrannical regime to lead the first ever prolific pro-democracy movement, in principle, Malawians opened the gates of the State House for him –with two fingers sign of victory.
Tens of thousands of Malawians thronged the Katoto ground to see and listen to the voice of this great man who openly challenged the lion of Malawi.
Cynical people attributed the huge turn out to home ground advantage since Chihana came from the northern region. The critics were soon to be proved wrong, as similar crowds or even more appeared in Lilongwe and Blantyre. Mulanje was even better than all other rallies much to the amusement of Chihana and his cronies.
Success went into the Aford Czar’s head. To Chihana, the huge turnouts meant one thing: Malawians loved him and elections were just a formality as procedures had to be followed. The ululating crowds that patronised his rallies gave him a wrong impression about the realities of the voting pattern. Chihana and his supporters hailed themselves and said, “We have conquered”. They totally deceived themselves.
Come general election results day, Chihana got the rudest shock of his life. He was number 3, even the most hated dictator; Kamuzu, was ahead of him at number 2. Bakili Muluzi got it all.
So far, Peter Mutharika, the interim leader of the former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has addressed two public rallies. One in Thyolo – DPP’s political base – and another one in Lilongwe.
DPP diehards are already on cloud nine. Azisiya Mayiyu 2014 (the lady is going in 2014). How we wish someone narrated the Chihana story to them.
For a variety of reasons, people will flock to the DPP rallies and unless they play it wisely, they will wake up with sad faces come May, 2014. Crowds at these rallies ought not to be taken seriously, for, if the mammoth crowds were our benchmark, Chakufwa Chihana could have been President of Malawi in May, 1994.
Do not underestimate Joyce Banda. The lady is a formidable politician. She didn’t ascend to the high office on former President Bingu Wa Mutharika’s back alone. The constitution stipulates that the party’s President shall choose his/her running mate.
In 2009, a running mate had to be chosen by Bingu. If we are to go by the words of the former deputy minister in the office of the President, Nicholas Dausi; Bingu was a very intelligent man. He calculated his every move. The following names were top on the list for Bingu’s running mate, Goodall Gondwe and Chimunthu Banda. Joyce Banda was not on the list. But the Professor, Ngwazi Bingu, Chitsulo chanjaje, mthesa njala, settled for one Joyce Hilda Mtila Banda. Why? Bingu knew his weaknesses and let them get complemented in Joyce Banda.
Joyce is a grassroots woman. She has done business with Malawi Congress Party, United Democratic Front, Democratic Progressive Party and now she is trading with Peoples Party-dare you underestimate her. Only MCP and PP are guided by what we can call values. Do you remember MCP’s four corner stones? Joyce Banda has her triangle which stands for unity, equity and development. Neither UDF nor DPP are based on values. This proves one point; how inventive Joyce Banda is. She pulls strings from a far.
However, if crowds keep on rocking Mutharika’s rallies as they are doing now until 2014, then the nation should be anticipating one of the greatest general elections ever seen, hoping that the Banda administration levels the playing field for all parties to show their antics.
But are Malawians ready for another Mutharika at State House or DPP back in power? The electorate in 2014 will deliver the verdict.