The unveiling of politician Sidik Mia as a new member of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) this weekend in the Lower Shire should not come as a shocker to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and a majority of Malawians who follow politics.
Mia has not made it a secret that he plans to join MCP, starting with the covert canvassing of the party’s leadership to the open declaration at several meetings of his intention to join the oldest political party in the country.
If the DPP were really masters in political machinations, or manipulation, this news should be sending shivers of apprehension within the party ranks for the simple reason that, in no time, the party will be caught napping and MCP will have made inroads in its stronghold as they bicker over a running mate
It does not matter that Mia’s strength lies in the districts of Nsanje and Chikwawa but religion is a strong factor in Malawi politics. His faith should make it easy for the DPP to make their choice, and that is their running mate should not be Muslim or whose origins are from the Lower Shire.
Such a scenario would possibly rule out the United Democratic Front (UDF) leader Atupele Muluzi and perhaps the DPP spokesperson Francis Kasaila.
Lately, it has become clear that the current Vice-President and the man credited with steering a DPP win in 2014 Saulos Chilima is not in the running, but the party is falling short of admitting this to the nation.
DPP is clearly setting itself up to fail. While parties like MCP whose foundations rest on meticulous planning on eyeing 2019 like a strategist, DPP is sleeping.
It is only kind to remind the DPP about what they say about failing to plan, which is that it really is planning to fail. The Malawian voter, for all intents and purposes cannot be taken for granted twice—Alliance for Democracy and Peoples Party learnt this the hard way.
In the meantime, as we wait for the political parties to finish their bickering, a new survey, perhaps by Afrobarometer would perhaps jolt them into action.
The indecisiveness in the DPP, not to mention the deafening silence from the almost dead PP, is clear in the political air and an indication of people’s views on this would be of great importance.
Not to belabour the Afrobarometer team but with the situation as it stands now, it would be interesting to know what the voter thinks of the proposed combinations of presidential candidate and running mate.
Assuming President Peter Mutharika will be the DPP torch bearer in May, 2019, what are the perceptions of voters if his running mate would be Saulos Chilima or Atupele Muluzi?
If Lazarus Chakwera remains the MCP candidate, would the MCP do well with his current deputy Richard Msowoya as running mate or with Mia?
Or better yet, it is not too late to measure the popularity of the current party leaders as well as their perceived running mates ahead of the conventions
Such a survey would perhaps make it easy for the DPP to finally make a decision and lift the palpable tension hovering over the party.
If we are to go by Chilima’s activities lately, he seems not to be putting himself in the running to the consternation of some people out there but it’s becoming a fact by the day.
It has become a favourite pastime of analysts to read into every word that Chilima utters on a public podium. Take for instance his address at the launch of the Zomba Diocese strategic plan where he stressed the importance of self-reliance and planning.
Not to put words in the Vice president’s mouth, but MCP and DPP should take serious heed of this advice.