The glue holding the Tonse Alliance is only strong at its weakest links: the Presidency. Outside of it, the Alliance is falling apart. The events and statements from Karonga Central are just a testament of what 5 years of a marriage of inconvenience might do to us.
Our ancestors, being smart, told us “when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers”. It will be Malawians who will bear the brunt of a full-blown war in the Alliance if the surviving link of the Alliance snaps.
In that state, one would think that the party outside government would be an option. It is not. Instead, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is out there outsmarting itself in inanity.
While fights were expected for the DPP having had witnessed an acrimonious defeat at the polls, it is the way of victory in that fight that is creating discomfort. Kondwani Nankhumwa, for all practical purposes, appears to be the person poised to take over the leadership of the DPP.
But, what qualities does Nankhumwa have apart from the fact that he was trusted by former President Peter Mutharika to head the party in its stronghold? The answer, on my end, appears to be none.
Right from his achievements, to his education, Nankhumwa is not a man of admirable qualities.
One of the issues that dogged the administration of Mutharika was the issue of substandard roads. DPP erected many roads in communities than any other administration in Malawi, however, they were roads that dissolved at their interaction with rains. Guess who was responsible for most of those roads? The ministry of local government under Nankhumwa, working with that of transport.
In the other ministries which he has headed, and there are many, there is no litany of achievements that he made. He was a minister who was there to inaugurate events and receive gifts, then appear on TV and use Bible verses on political rallies. That, ladies and gentlemen, are the qualities of a man who wants to be alternative to a combination of Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima.
Nankhumwa’s stage to show relevance was in Parliament when Chakwera came to answer questions. The Member of Parliament for Mulanje Central was not only outsmarted, he was way out of depth on issues and unveiled himself as huge impression yet no substance. Chakwera went to town on him, undressing him, teaching him, patronising him and – were it a fight – kicking him between the legs. Nankhumwa, realising he knows nothing than his name, resorted to his useless tactic: making peace against a bullish President who had prepared for this showing.
His love for ‘peace’ is not that he is a peaceable man, it is because he has nothing to offer. If he had anything to offer, he would have challenged Chakwera and where Chakwera went for his teeth, he would have gone for his whole mouth. To do that, however, requires an intellectuality that cannot be manipulated into being as Nankhumwa has done with his leader of opposition seat and is most likely to do with the leadership of the DPP.
It is not that the DPP does not have capable people. It has them, in plenty. However, Nankhumwa has staged a putsch within the house and has gotten away with it. The bearing of this putsch however is not just on the DPP, it is on the country where Tonse Alliance needed a strong sensible opposition. Not just an opposition of useless noise and smiles of ineptitude. With Nankhumwa at the helm, however, DPP is giving out that.