With about 500 days to go before the May 2019 elections, political parties – the non-briefcase types that is, are pondering national conventions.
High on their agendas is election of their torch bearers for the 2019 marathon.
Although from reports this far, only three: Alliance for Democracy (Aford), Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) have expressed intentions to convene; the likelihood is high that the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will have one too – even if it is only to endorse President Peter Mutharika.
As for Peoples Party (PP) which is out of sorts on all fronts as a result of the unduly long self-imposed exile of its founder and de facto owner former president Mrs Joyce Banda, in doubt is not only the prospect of holding a convention.
PP’s very survival is in supposition as its members, especially Members of Parliament, are now openly whoring to the highest bidder.
If DPP wants their support to defeat electoral reforms for instance, for the right price, they are ready to sell not only their souls, but even those of their children and their yet to be born progeny.
If MCP were capable of dangling some sort of bait, there is no doubt that they would wholeheartedly side with the MCP and conveniently claim that “we consulted our constituents”.
Practice they say, makes perfect. It is therefore not surprising that PP’s harlotry is going places.
Take for instance, under fire Member of Parliament (MP) for Mzimba North-East Constituency Olipa Muyaba; whose voting against the Electoral Reform Bills aroused her constituents’ ire.
Issuing a public apology to the constituents who summoned her for being among MPs who voted against the Presidential and Parliamentary Bill, which, among others, aims at changing the electoral system from simple majority to 50 percent +1; said she voted “NO” to the second reading of the bill because she had no ample time to go through it.
It’s good for her that I am not one of her pissed off constituents because as far as I am concerned, her reason for voting “NO” was nonsensical.
Anyways, it is gratifying to see that not all Malawians are buying the crap being peddled by parliamentarians who voted with their bellies.
Coming back to the conventions, it is public knowledge that for the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the conventions will just be a façade they will front yet again to thinly disguise the well-known fact that theirs are family empires.
Alliance for Democracy (Aford)’s Enock Chihana is green with envy wishing he were that lucky because for him, the going can and does get a bit rougher. He has at times to reckon with some hardliners who refuse to sit and watch the once upon a time northern kingmaker reduced to a family enterprise.
Eventually it may come to that, but not under their watch they say.
The convention to watch however is that of the MCP. It promises nothing but fireworks.
Let me see if I can sum up it up: first, MCP is going through what I see as a calm before a storm.
Save for the odd presser from Dr Jessie Kabwila which is met with a swift retort from Eisenhower Mkaka; there is a volatile ceasefire between the mainly Lilongwe-based camp on the one hand buttressed by many parliamentarians, and the other camp whose face of resistance was – until the ceasefire – that of the Secretary General, Gustav Kaliwo.
Among the many complex ego issues, the vital bone of contention was that while the mainly Lilongwe-based camp views Sidik Mia as the party’s long awaited messiah, the SG’s camp thinks otherwise and has been agitating for what it terms ‘constitutionalism’.
Explained, this means that even if I, Mapwiya Muulupale, had billions, the Kaliwo camp would not sit idle and watch the party dumping convention-elected office-bearers who have been with the party through thick and thin, in favour of yours truly and my sweet billions.
This camp says that party protocols, as prescribed in the party constitution, should take precedence. This camp is opposed to elected officials being bulldozed into obscurity as an inner circle pursues pacts it has made with perceived billionaires.
The other school of thought is equally adamant that without money, the party cannot win elections; a point which I am tempted to buy, but for one flaw.
MCP has been claiming that it actually won the May 2014 election. If this is true, then also true is the fact that despite its well-advertised poverty, MCP trounced cash-gate rich PP’s Joyce Banda, well-endowed DPP’s Peter Mutharika and mysteriously wealthy UDF’s Atupele Muluzi.
This seems to imply that even with its public fundraising, which was welcomed by critics as a mechanism of protecting the party from “capture”, MCP is perfectly capable of winning elections with or without billionaire office bearers.
If however the MCP lost the 2014 elections, and it knows that for a fact that the loss was due to poverty, then it owes Mutharika and his DPP an apology.
To cut a long story short, the MCP cannot simultaneously claim it won the 2014 election but the DPP rigged its way to the State House and that it also lost the same election due to poverty.
Which is which?
Anyways, this is not my headache. I will leave this to the MCP diehards to sort it all out or mess it all up even more. If you ask me, I see more potential in MCP making the mess messier than in their making the best out of this messy situation.
What I want to say however about conventions is that this time around, all parties should take them seriously.
The benefits of holding genuine conventions and choosing leaders who are actually capable of running poverty-stricken Malawi are numerous and obvious.
The practice of rubberstamping or electing party bearers whose political agenda is to handclap for mediocrity as long as the president let’s them loot is the reason we have the third-rate type of leadership and governance which is responsible for all our woes as a nation.
My message to all political parties worth the name: by all means conduct your conventions, but please give us principled and selfless leaders, not looters.