United we stand, divided we fall

I love the Malawi national soccer team “the Flames” very much. And I assume that this goes for all Malawians. In my case, the more I love the team; the more I get frustrated due to its poor performance such that I vent my anger on any other person close to me as it gets walloped despite Kinnah Phiri`s assurances and predictions to the contrary.

Sometimes I go on a hunger strike when the stakes are high. The Chad game, when we failed to qualify for the 2012 African cup of nations with almost less than 120 seconds to go before the end of the game, is a case in point.

Malawians go to polls in 2014

In such circumstances I cannot even talk civilly to my better half. In fact I blow my fuse with very little or no provocation at all. During such time, I don’t even care if she decides to part ways with me! Why? Because the team I love has lost, I feel like I have lost everything.

Thanks to her advice- this has changed somewhat. Things, I can say have improved, after she advised me to stop believing the Kinnah/ Nyamilandu hogwash that comes before the game, quit watching or listening to the game and just get the final result.

All this however, is beside the point and I do not intend to waste your time or bore you with my frustrations with the Flames. But rather I want to reason with you, especially for proponents of the opposition to pre-empt frustrations, come 2014.

When one gauges the political barometer in the cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu; one gets the impression that if a general election were held today, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) would be given marching orders.

However, this impression should not mislead opposition parties that they will get a smooth ride in 2014 because cities, more so comments made on online publications like Nyasa Times, Maravi Post, Malawi Democrat,  Maravi Express, Facebook, Twitter and what have you, are not representative enough of the wider population of Malawians who would go to the polls from Nsanje to Chitipa, Likoma Island to Mchinji.

This is why the DPP cannot and should not be undermined or ruled out of contention. Like it or hate it, accept it or reject it, DPP will be a very big force to reckon with in 2014.

Firstly, the majority of voters are in the rural areas and most of them are illiterate, hence they will continue to be easily manipulated by the DPP propaganda machinery.

Secondly, as Bakili Muluzi once put it, “Malawians easily forget”. This painful statement cannot be downplayed. This is a weakness we have as a nation and cunning politicians know how to capitalize on it.

Has anyone, for instance, convincingly explained how and why Honourable John Tembo almost made it to Sanjika in 2004 despite state sponsored character assassination and mudslinging including the “olo atandipopera Doom mkamwa” speech by Bakili?

Now, what can prevent people, especially those in the rural areas who are satisfied with mediocrities like the fertiliser subsidy programme from voting for DPP if people amazingly voted for John Tembo whose CV, to date, leaves a lot to be desired?

Malawians are indeed a forgetful lot. Some may choose to agree to disagree with me but the point is; the subsidy programme will continue to be a strong weapon for the DPP to amass votes in the rural areas.

It is a practical thing and easier to bring home in a debate as opposed to the issues to do with concepts of good governance and the economic theories of forex for a villager. People resonate with practical things, and practical things in the village mean “nsima”.

So, let us agree before we go ahead with this brief discussion that despite the ruling party’s failure to govern this country, ruling the DPP out of contention in the 2014 general elections at this point is suicide.

If we are to be honest with ourselves, then we will see the need to strategies to avert such a catastrophe. For a start, can the opposition in Malawi capitalize on this prevailing wind of political and economic tornado?

Let us, for instance, assume that the DPP stops living in denial and accepts that the political landscape all over the world, more so in Africa, is very volatile. Let us assume that the DPP accepts that the political situation can turn topsy-turvy as has happened in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, the recent Zambian elections, our own historical 20th July event and the Rumphi Central bye-elections statement.

An honest DPP would know that it will be an anthill task to retain power in 2014. So a pragmatic DPP would formulate sophisticated political campaign strategies this nation has ever witnessed using every resource and trick – inside or outside the book – to retain power.

To deal with this possibility, the opposition would have to get equally innovative and devious. One proposal is the opposition forming an alliance to present an organized coalition to fight DPP in 2014. Most analysis however say that such an alliance in Malawi is non-starter because opposition parties are greedy for power; everyone wants to be president and no one will accept to play second fiddle for the common good of this nation.

If this turns out to be the case, all Malawians who want change in 2014 will end up being a frustrated lot. But, if opposition parties are not careful, the recent events in the DR Congo elections might replicate in Malawi.

But UNLESS the opposition political parties in Malawi put their house in order; IF the squabbles and political bickering that have taken centre stage and engulfed UDF and MCP continue without finding long lasting solutions; IF the UDF, the MCP, the Peoples Party (PP), AFORD and the rest of the splintered opposition do not start to work towards a unified opposition block now, then those agitating for regime change through the ballot in 2014 will suddenly find themselves in my shoes – each time the flames lose; more frustrated like never before.

 

·         Henry Mvula, (fourth year Land Management Student at Mzuzu University)

·         Email: [email protected]

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