Hon Folks, first it was a shakeup in MCP when some executive members, including party secretary general Gustav Kaliwo and party vice-president Richard Msowoya, stood up to party president Lazarus Chakwera who, they claim, has no respect for the party’s constitution.
The tussle lingers on in the courts, effectively thwarting a planned MCP convention in readiness for the tripartite polls next year.
To the critical voter, the question is: was there no political solution to the conflict? If voted into government in 2019, does MCP have what it takes to foster unity by ensuring conflicts in our highly polarised nation are quickly resolved?
The waffling in MCP worked to the advantage of the governing DPP which was busy repositioning itself for success in the 2019 polls following the humiliating outcome of the October 17 2017 by-elections when it secured only one ward while MCP swept all the remaining two wards and three parliamentary seats.
Since then we’ve seen overtures to consolidate its grip of the South by having to its side UDF and the remnants of PP—two parties that have the eastern region, which is a part of the greater Southern Region. It’s the support that helped thwart the passing of electoral reforms Bills in November 2017.
In the recently held local by-elections in Mulanje and Mangochi, DPP and UDF decided not to field candidates in each other’s strongholds, a strategy which made DPP win in Mulanje and UDF win in Mangochi. Their supporters celebrated the victories jointly!
Some political commentators predicted the South would be a hard road to travel for MCP should DPP and UDF decide to replicate their strategy in 2019, supporting, instead of competing against, each other in their respective strongholds.
But now, DPP is rocked in its own intra-party conflict which, if not well handled, may result in irreparable cracks in the governing party. The younger members want Vice-President Saulos Chilima to be the DPP candidate in 2019, a move vehemently opposed by the older members who hold sway in the party’s politburo.
The latter have chided Chilima as a “baby” not ready yet to take over the baton from APM who, they have emphatically declared, is the one and only DPP presidential candidate for 2019. No other name would be allowed to contest with APM for the position, they say.
It remains to be seen if the rift will have a bearing on the relations between APM and Chilima. Both of them have not said a word on the squabbles, a tactic which may have fanned the tug-of-war between DPP youth and DPP ‘Silver Grey’ at a crucial time when they should all have been preparing for elections which are only 13 months away.
Probably more damaging to DPP are the issues at the centre of the conflict. Those who want change of guards argue that APM is too old for the arduous task of taking Malawi out of the gutter. They also say APM is surrounded by people without integrity who are using power entrusted in them to enrich themselves at the expense of the more than 17 million Malawians who are getting poorer by the day.
It’s an argument that makes the ‘Silver Grey’ side look like hypocrites who want the status quo to prevail not because they love APM but because he has the key to their comfort zones. If he goes, they go too and probably face corruption charges.
On the other hand, DPP youths’ demand for APM to step aside when the Constitution of the Republic allows him another term also seems unreasonable. Why throw away the advantage of incumbency? Why not lobby APM to pick Chilima for running-mate again considering the appeal the latter has among the youth who constitute the majority of the voters?
APM with Chilima as running mate in 2014 only managed to garner 36.4 percent of the vote. Now this dissatisfaction from within may imply that the base is getting narrower. The question is: who’s gaining?