Malawi politics: Of a ‘Moses’ hoping from one alliance to another towards the promised land
Wise One From the East*
In alliances we trust:
An alliance in politics, said Ambrose Bierce, is the union of two thieves who have their hands so deeply inserted in each other’s pockets that they cannot – without the agreement and cooperation of the other – plunder anyone.
For examples in today’s Malawi look no further than the alliance of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the United Democratic Front (UDF).
The ruling DPP and UDF alliance
They have their hands so intertwined that each on his own cannot successfully plunder or pillage.
But as a team, Ladies and Gentlemen, they are “awesome”.
They can and they are achieving anything they want.
Throwing spanners into a long-standing but clear-cut former president’s case, blocking the independence of the Anti-Corruption Directorate,
Maxon Mbendera’s death has left a gap at MEC.
Death of Justice Mbendera (pic) has created a vacancy at the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC)
passing some dubious laws and many more activities on the exploration and mining fronts are evidence of their collective might or wickedness, depending on which side of the fence you stand.
Together, they can even conspire to fill the recent vacancy of the Malawi Electoral Commission chair with a uselessly partisan character who – going by his unethical display at the State’s Tax collector where he colluded with a compromised bank to fiddle with national accounts so as to create an impression that the Zero Deficit Budget was working – is not fit for any office where ethics are more important than the law.
The new alliance in town:
When you talk about a lion, African wisdom advises, you should go up a tree. And since we are talking alliances, it is time to seek refuge high up a tree.
There is another one in town: the Transformation Alliance (TA). TA is reportedly a political pressure group advocating for nothing short of an overhaul of our systems.
Brilliant stuff and how I wish this had come sooner!
Kunkuyu: Forging a political future through “alliances”, …as the journey continues!
It says Malawi urgently needs a complete overhaul of the political system to resolve prevailing political and socio-economic “calamities”.
It further says politics of patronage and “blind loyalty” which lead to creation of semi-gods in the country’s leaders should go as Malawi does not need leaders who are detached from the economic realities facing citizens.
Kunkuyu: Chairs the TA.
Interim chairperson of the grouping is Moses Kunkuyu, coincidentally the first Cabinet minister to be appointed by former president Joyce Banda when she assumed power in April 2012 after the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika.
Unveiling TA in Blantyre, Kunkuyu said his group believes that leaders with a better background and understanding of the country’s political and economic dynamics have the potential to bring about the change Malawians desire.
He did not define “better background” nor clarify what constitutes “understanding of the country’s political and economic dynamics”.
He was however on song when he said: “Malawians are fed up with costly leaders that assume top public office posts, but are eternally on leadership orientation. Malawi should groom its future leaders beginning now.”
An alliance overrating itself?
The movement has also dared the leadership of the quasi-religious grouping Public Affairs Committee (PAC) to prove the relevance of their institution by briefing the country’s citizens on the concerns and recommendations presented during the previous All-inclusive Stakeholders Conference which took place in February this year.
On this, I must admit, the Transformation Alliance has confused me.
In my view, between the two i.e. the so called Transformation Alliance and PAC, the one that desperately needs to prove relevance is the Transformation Alliance. I will elaborate later.
TA has also called upon Parliament, through the Public Accounts Committee, “in a similar tone and under the same immunity [if any] or boldness that Honourable [Kamlepo] Kalua has to either refute or confirm the allegations being made by one of its members. Parliament’s silence on this crucial issue is questionable and unacceptable”.
A stranger in Jerusalem would say, by Jees! Where were these guys all this time? And this is where it all gets interesting.
Alliances of hope and transformation:
For a start, this is not the first time for Kunkuyu to be spearheading a pressure group.
In 2011, while serving as a member of Parliament (MP) affiliated to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) under Bingu, he also led Hope Alliance; a pressure group within DPP which later announced its “working relationship” with Joyce Banda following her coming into power.
The key clause here is “following her coming to power”.
Kunkuyu, who was spokesperson of the alliance, said they were not rebels but MPs who love their party and want to help it regain its lost glory, whatever this garbage meant.
“It is a grouping of over 30 MPs who love the party. We want to fight from within the party. We want to bring hope to Malawians by ensuring that the party observes the rule of law, good governance, democracy and that Malawians are able to get basic needs,” said Kunkuyu.
“We feel as MPs we have a say on whatever is happening. We feel our leader (i.e. late Bingu wa Mutharika) is poorly advised. …some people surrounding the President are blocking the way for those who want to tell him the truth. As MPs, we bring to the President issues from the constituents but there is never feedback. We want to improve the communication channel” added Kunkuyu.
This was in January 2012.
Alliances of frustration:
Fast-forward to April 2012, Kunkuyu was appointed as the first minister in President Joyce Banda’s cabinet, a cabinet which did very little to help her uncover Cash-gate created by her predecessors and more importantly dismally failed to help her retain the presidency in the 2014 elections.
Perhaps more tellingly, many members of that Cabinet were rejected by the electorate or sensing embarrassment, “retired” from politics.
Why? Because the people that surrounded Pres Joyce Banda, Moses Kunkuyu included, quickly embraced the very same “politics of patronage” and “blind loyalty” which led Pres Joyce Banda astray and before her, destroyed Bingu wa Mutharika’s first term legacy.
Joyce Banda was surrounded by politician of patronage.
And so where does this leave us all? The answer is not complicated. We are where we were before this new alliance was unveiled i.e. still stuck in deep shit.
This is why, if Moses Kunkuyu wants me and like-minded individuals to pay even the remotest interest to his “alliances”, he has another think coming.
First, he should explain the lessons, if any, he learnt from the Hope Alliance and prove to us that just as the Hope Alliance was just disguised Peoples Party (PP) operating within DPP, Transformation Alliance is not a proxy for some party or individual looking for gullible idiots.
Secondly, I need some convincing as to when he actually realised that buzz words like “politics of patronage”, “blind loyalty”, “a better background and understanding of the country’s political and economic dynamics”, and “better background” are critical in our selection and election of leaders.
Where is this coming from?
While I understand Kunkuyu’s falling in love with the Bingu wa Mutharika of 2004-2009 to the extent of forsaking his independent parliamentary ticket and joining the DPP bandwagon, his somersault into Pres Joyce Banda’s cabinet had me and still puzzles me.
While I could try to comprehend the somersault above, his reasons for leaving his “first” political party, the Peoples Party are, to say the least, suspicious.
Evidence of the frustration:
Verbatim: from the Daily Times
Moses Kunkuyu’s resignation shocks People’s Party
“The National Executive Committee of the opposition People’s Party (PP) says the party leadership is shocked with the resignation of former minister of Information and the party’s Deputy Publicity Secretary, Moses Kunkuyu.
Announcing the decision on Wednesday, Kunkuyu, who was the first person to be appointed minister in former president Joyce Banda’s Cabinet, could, however, not disclose his next political move.
He, however, said he remains a passionate politician and feels as a young person he still has a lot to contribute to the country’s economic development through politics.
In an interview, PP spokesperson, Ken Msonda, said Kunkuyu was one of the dedicated young people in the party and his services will be greatly missed.
“We are shocked and disappointed with Honourable Kunkuyu’s resignation from the party. He was passionate about party activities, prayerful and as a party we will really miss him.
“But as somebody who has the right to freedom of association, there is nothing we can do apart from wishing him all the best wherever he is going. We have no problem with his decision but we are really shocked,” Msonda said.
The 35-year-old Kunkuyu, who served as an independent Member of Parliament for Blantyre City South but supported Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) agenda in Parliament, said he could not describe himself as a political rolling stone since PP was his first party.
Banda appointed Kunkuyu as PP Deputy Publicity Secretary last year.
“I have been thinking and praying about it for some time and I feel this is the right time for me to move out of the party. I wanted the house to be in order before announcing my resignation and now that the party has an acting president, I thought it was my time to take leave.
“Despite supporting the DPP agenda in Parliament, PP is the first party that I was a member. So, this is the first time I am leaving a political party. But I do not want to pretend that I will take a break in politics or I will be doing something else. I am young and remain a politician.
“If there are people to quit politics, it should be those people who are old, not young people like me. Actually, I would like to encourage other young people to join politics and not to leave it for old and tired people,” Kunkuyu said.
In the 2014 Tripartite Elections, Kunkuyu stood on PP ticket in Dedza South Constituency.
Just before the death of Bingu wa Mutharika and his joining the PP, Kunkuyu led a grouping that christened itself Hope Alliance, which was critical of Mutharika’s government then.
The straw that broke the alliance’s back:
Reading between the lines, it is clear that Kunkuyu left the Peoples Party (PP) because he was left out in the cold when an Acting President, other than him, was appointed.
“I have been thinking and praying about it for some time and I feel this is the right time for me to move out of the party. I wanted the house to be in order before announcing my resignation and now that the party has an acting president, I thought it was my time to take leave.”
This should be understood as: “Now that PP has finally and clearly indicated that it cannot trust me with the responsibility of an Acting president, I quit.”
To put this in its proper perspective, with his being stepped over as PP’s Acting President – the reward he thought he had earned from President Joyce Banda, Moses realised that he was still far from the ‘promised land’.
Transformation Alliance – debunked:
I therefore have serious doubts if at all Kunkuyu has the capacity and ability to play second fiddle and more importantly, if he and his Transformation Alliance pals have a grasp of the meaning of the buzz words they have picked as their mantra in their quest to resurrect impotent or non-existent political leadership potential.
“Politics of patronage” – this was the whole essence of late Pres Bingu wa Mutharika and his predecessors and successor. Had Kunkuyu been immune to this syndrome, after joining the DPP bandwagon and learning his mistake, he would have quit. More importantly, as soon as PP swallowed the politics of patronage bug, he should have quit.
“Blind loyalty”: as above.
“A better background and understanding of the country’s political and economic dynamics”: What proof does Kunkuyu and his buddies have that they have a better understanding of our political and economic dynamics? Is not true that all politicians when in wilderness “pretend” to understand these and drop the pretence when driven in fuel guzzlers while we are struggling with bus fares?
“Better background”: Against all the above, if Kunkuyu thinks he has a “better background”, then I will encourage the Friday Jumbes, Sam Mpasus, Vuwa Kaundas, Binton Kuntsairas, Nicholaus Dausis and these many other political disasters to also stake their claims to possessing “better backgrounds”.
To conclude, going by the looting that our leaders are all competing for, all these alliances are unions of thieves with their hands so deeply inserted in each other’s pockets that they cannot – without the agreement and cooperation of the other – plunder our money.
In other words, all these alliances of convenience are borne out of politicians’ distrust for each other. Why should you and I trust them?
I rest my case.
*Views expressed in this article are those of the author and not Malawi24. Email articles for publication firstname.lastname@example.org.