As usual of our politics, the blame game is flying around, and it always feels like we are in an election period.
It is an open secret that our politics does not embody what politics ought to be like. But this is a characteristic almost everywhere in the world.
Politics has never been politics, even in the developed world. The face of politics in Malawi keeps on changing its looks and this is because of the untamed terrain it operates on.
Professor Blessings Chinsinga drew the wrath of some people when he said at the Public Affairs Committee meeting inclusive meeting weeks ago when he said that Malawi has had ‘Accidental presidents’. Most people, including me, have not heard from him an explanation on what he meant by this phrase. But let me borrow it and say that Malawi’s politics parties have ‘Accidental Coalitions’. By this I mean that almost all of the coalitions of parties we have had were done out of nothing but on an occasion which came about as an accident.
First on the changed face of our political scene: During the May 2014 general elections, the race was among four parties, the United Democratic Front (UDF), the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the People’s Party (PP) and the winning party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). All of these were once ruling parties and it exposes one character of our political parties; only those that were once in power have the strength and the capacity to standout.
There is no chance for the new ones to the point that there is a suggestion that the non-active parties need to be deregistered. From the four-horse race two years ago, what do we have now? The four parties have gone into ‘coalitions’. The DPP is now with the UDF and the MCP is now with the PP. All these ‘coalitions’ are coming due to accidental circumstances and not agreement on ideologies.
The UDF leader, Mr. Atupele Muluzi, failed to explain the ‘coalition’ his party was seeking with the winning DPP soon after the May 2014 elections. Even some of its own Members of Parliament did not understand and approve of it, leading into one of them, Mr. Lucius Banda, choosing to stay in the opposition benches and not on the government side in the Parliament. The top leadership was also not in agreement. It led to an internal wrangle between the party leader and one of his deputies, Mr. Iqbar Omar, to the point that the latter was suspended from the party. Only a few henchmen like Mr. Kandi Padambo stuck to the decision of their leader and defended it whenever it came under scrutiny. But it is also hard to trust people like Mr. Kandi Padambo who failed to win parliamentary seats. The best thing they can do is to stick to the party as a way of strategizing themselves for the next election. They will be non-entities should they go against the party. There is no room for them in other parties since they carry no vote in the parliament.
Recently, PP and MCP held a joint political rally and it showed their unexplained intention to work together. But from an outside’s point of view, the DPP-led government is at its weakest point right now. There is no tangible leadership in it and it is failing to deliver.
President Peter Mutharika has faced challenges on his dream of reviving the Malawi economy. Seeing that gap, the two parties probably felt that uniting their forces towards the DPP will result into enough pressure to make the DPP notice their presence unlike acting as individuals.
But there is no value in their relationship. The two former ruling parties, despite commanding a good following, have people who are proven failures. It is a wonder as to what people like Mr. Uladi Mussa, Mr. Enock Chihana, Miss. Jessie Kabwila can offer to the nation.
Mr. Mussa is the most popular career politician in Malawi. Mr. Chihana is the result the Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) is breathing its last today. The once strong party is in tatters because of him. He sold it to PP. Miss. Kabwila, the MCP spokesperson, lacks integrity and has the reputation of speaking before thinking.
MCP, as a party, has failed to sell itself as a government in waiting. It is always on the reacting side. For PP, it presided over a massive plunder of public funds at the government’s offices in Lilongwe and some of its officials are being convicted and implicated in the on-going court cases.
This was one of the reasons it lost the May 2014 general elections. These are the kind of parties that are ganging up and clearly there is no value in them.
Just as it is with them, it is being hard to notice the value the UDF is bringing to a DPP-led government which is probably three years away from being voted out of office.
With no clear party agendas and what they stand for, the ‘coalitions’ being made will be of no value at all. They will be as a result of strategizing on numbers for the elections.
The biggest loser will be the quality of our politics. The evidence that the ‘coalitions’ are accidental will be seen as the 2019 general elections will be drawing close. They will all break up after carrying each other on a survival measure.
About the writer: Wonderful Mkhutche is an author, a political scientist and a manuscript developer and editor.