Political alliances are good for democracy, Malawi

It has been said that there is strength in unity. There is no disputing that. Without belabouring the point, that is why the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is in an alliance or coalition with the United Democratic Front (UDF). The two political parties, or at least leaders from the two parties, expect to benefit from working together to achieve certain (common) objectives. In fact, the two parties could become stronger if they opted to work with more political parties.

But if they don’t do so, there is no reason why anyone in DPP or UDF should cry wolf when those not in a coalition with them also decided to go into an alliance.

It is for this reason that I find the DPP secretary general Griezeder Jeffrey’s comments about an alleged Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and People’s Party (PP) alliance out of order and illogical. By the way, Jeffrey is known as loose canon. One of her recent statements that the Northern Region will never produce a State president does not rank her highly as an orator or as someone to be taken seriously. One wonders whether she shares her speaking notes with anyone in the party. If truth be said, she is treading dangerously. And the DPP leadership better watch out about how much more damage after George Chaponda’s Zambia maize import saga, she may bring to the party before the 2019 elections. If I were Jeffrey, I would have engaged fellow leaders in DPP to brainstorm on how best to restore the damaged reputation of the party after Maizegate.

This week, she was at again when she ridiculed and poured scorn on the alleged MCP and PP alliance after President Peter Mutharika officially commissioned the Chitipa Water Supply project. To start with, she made the remarks at a wrong forum, because this was a purely government function. If she had been frothing to discredit the alleged alliance, she should have reserved such for DPP/UDF political rally.

My interest in what Jeffrey said about the alleged MCP/PP alliance is to underscore the fact that such coalitions benefit not only the political parties in the alliance but for the country as a whole. As I have already said above that there is strength in unity, when two opposition political parties work together in and outside Parliament, they help stop the ruling political party from taking the people for granted. When the opposition is weak, the ruling party feels it can do anything.

We have seen this many times. Former president Bingu wa Mutharika’s first and second tenures are good examples. During his first term—2004 to 2009—the country had a strong opposition. This provided the necessary checks and balances for government. The result was economic growth. Needless to say that this was coupled with a period of good agricultural seasons. But Bingu’s second tenure was a total disaster largely because he felt he had a free reign after winning the 2009 elections with a majority of votes, a development that left the opposition very weak.

This is a scenario Malawians must, at all costs, avoid going forward. The ruling party should never be allowed a free reign. It is the flipside of the 50 +1 system of electing a president. So when two or more opposition parties contemplate coming together to form a front  against the ruling party, that can only work for the benefit of democracy and the country a whole.

So the reason Jeffrey and DPP are not comfortable with an MCP and PP alliance while they are happy with the DPP/UDF coalition is because the stronger opposition threatens the status quo. n

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