The campaign for the Fresh Presidential Election 2020 hit its crescendo this past week.
Last-minute manoeuvres to reach the undecided, to reclaim those who crossed the floor and to hook a big fish or two were in full play.
Former Speaker of Parliament Hon. Henry Chimunthu Banda is one notable last-minute catch.
Whose campaign has been more effective? Don’t bother, we will know soon.
Close to the polling date, some publications and scribes endorse their preferred candidates. If you have been following this column for a while, you will be aware that I don’t.
The reason is simple. Implementation of the policies of whosoever wins will need to be dissected on this column, and an endorsement could cost me objectivity.
This is why dabbling in endorsements is not my business. My business, Blues’ Orators, is incisive no-holds-barred analyses not intended to please anyone but to catalyse critical and innovative thinking for the sake of Malawi.
Having said that, before us is a Court-induced Fresh Presidential Election in which injury-time president DPP’s Peter Mutharika and his runner, UDF’s Atupele Muluzi are pitted against MCP’s Lazarus Chakwera and his running mate UTM’s Saulos Chilima under the Tonse Alliance banner.
To explain why I am referring to Atupele as Mutharika’s runner, permit me to take you back to the days of my youth.
Lazily returning home one summer’s day after visiting friends, whistling and kicking stones without a care, I noticed that a house which hitherto had been vacant was now occupied.
Eyes being the quintessential gate-crashers, mine strayed to this house’s back yard and lo, at this backyard was a maiden, nonchalantly doing house chores.
Having broken up with my girlfriend a couple of months back, my radar was on high alert and constantly scanning the horizon for prospects.
After walking past the house, my poor heart would not let me just walk away like that.
I can’t recall the exact pretext, but I made a U-turn and then took a long look and a keener appraisal of the damsel, critically assessing all those physiological and anatomical aspects discernible to the naked eye.
I can assure you Blues’ Orators, not once did I blink while undertaking this vital reconnaissance operation.
Were it humanly possible, I would have invoked all the known seven senses i.e. the senses of sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch, vestibular, and proprioception. As it were, the sense of sight was the only one applicable.
Hence my not blinking because I could’ve blinked and missed something vital.
After taking in her angelic facial features, watching her gracefully peeling Irish potatoes all the while making it look like she is performing an extremely delicate oriental art and of course after getting a sneak preview of her curves which were still very much evident despite her chitenje; I became a believer.
“Verily”, I said unto myself, “Cupid’s tale and his bow are not a myth. Who knew?”
Not one to live in denial, I accepted that my heart was bleeding and that until I make this sweet lass mine, the only nights I would know are the sleepless type.
A very revolting prospect.
Now, while I was so absent-minded and love-hit so hard that I was oblivious to the existence of the rest of the world, a rude driver hooted and screeched to a stop barely a metre from me.
He had nearly run over me.
Thus jolted back to reality, I jumped off the road to the sidewalks. Walking on, I stole a look behind and noticed that the girl had watched my near mishap. Due to the distance however, I couldn’t assess her reaction.
Under normal circumstances, such an escapade would’ve shamed me into staying away from the girl.
“It’s a good sign,” I convinced myself, “It means she is worth dying for. Isn’t this what Romeo and Juliet were all about?”
I invested the next days ‘researching’ and unearthed a few tips.
It turned out that the tantalizing beauty had mean brothers with a reputation of mercilessly clobbering her would-be suitors.
Second, that her father was a proud owner of savage bulldogs that had chopped off a few kilos of human flesh from some unlucky passers-by’s buttocks.
Obviously, a direct approach or a frontal ‘attack’ was out of question.
Taking on a combination of vicious dogs and rowdy brothers was not my cup of coffee and from my reading of William Shakespeare, Romeo was neither mauled to death by vicious dogs nor manhandled to pulp by overly protective brothers.
I was just about to give up when I learnt that the kid next door was a school mate to the damsel’s young brother.
Knowing the kid and his weaknesses through and through, I organised an arsenal of bribes and enticements, and before one could say Jack Robinson, the boy was my trusted mail boy, i.e. my runner.
The rest is history.
Back to our topic, Atupele is to Mutharika what the young runner was in my love affair above. Once the affair heated up and boy, did things get hot, I had little to zero use for him.
“What is your point Mapwiya Muulupale?” I hear you ask.
First of all, Blues’ Orators, both Atupele and Saulos have long lives ahead of them. They are both politicians, and in politics, your history either makes or haunts you.
Second, this Fresh Presidential Election is a result of Saulos’ (and Chakwera’s) initiative.
After failing miserably in May 2019, Atupele ran off to China while Saulos was fighting, for Malawi.
Hence, while Saulos comes out stronger and as a liberator, Atupele seems to be just as opportunistic as corona and other viruses.
Thirdly, by playing Mutharika’s runner, Atupele has succeeded where others have failed. His prize: a hybrid of UDF’s and Mutharika’s increasingly disgusting legacies.
The fourth point is that while Saulos, by humbling himself to make the Tonse Alliance a reality has earned goodwill and political capital he will tap on in future; Atupele, by aligning himself with Mutharika who has abandoned all pretence and now treats the Constitution as an inheritance through which Malawi – lake, mountains, rivers, valleys and all – was bequeathed to him, is the face with which Mutharika will be remembered.
Whether Mutharika wins or loses, Atupele is now etched into Malawians’ mind as the boy who abandoned all he once stood for in pursuit of personal gratification.
Do you get it?
Let me recap: whether Chakwera wins or loses, Saulos will come out of this election stronger and as a leader fighting for a Malawi that is for all.
Whether Mutharika wins or loses, Atupele, on the other hand, will come out as a mere runner who, like the runner in my quest for the mystery damsel above, is only interested in instant personal gratification.
Anyway, while we wait for the Chilima vs Muluzi rumble whenever it will be, I wholeheartedly wish Chakwera and Mutharika the best of luck.
Now, go ye therefore and vote!