Will MCP take us back to autocracy?

Hon. Folks, if Kamuzu’s MCP was built on unity, loyalty, obedience and discipline, the four cornerstones, Chakwera’s MCP is built on a quicksand of bickering and factionalism.

The MCP politburo is divided; there’s the pro-Chakwera and the anti-Chakwera camps which are so much into their never-ending tug-of-war that they seem to be oblivious to the fact that the 2019 tripartite elections are only about 15 months away.

If the truth be told, MCP is the only one out of the more than 30 registered parties that offers the electorate hope for an alternative to DPP. Unlike in 2014 polls when there were four major parties contesting, in 2019 only MCP poses a real threat to the governing DPP.

PP and UDF have shrunken so much in size, goodwill and credibility to harbour any illusion of forming a government in 2019. Their real value going forward will most likely be as a partner in a marriage of convenience for whichever party salivates for a win of Eastern Region votes.

Already DPP has UDF in its armpits and only in November 2017 it thwarted the passing of bills on electoral reforms with the help of PP MPs, an indication that PP too is within the reach of APM who in 2019 will no doubt seek to shore up votes from the South with those from the East to neutralise Chakwera’s advantage in the Centre. That way, the battle for a tie-breaker will be up North.

Interestingly, the governing party has already mounted a propaganda offensive up North, holding meetings regularly where a litany of developmental projects earmarked for the region in 2018 going forward is spelt and repeated over and over again.

Management of MBC isn’t disappointing the hiring authority either. News at the State-run broadcaster is about APM this APM that, DPP this DPP that.  Any mention of MCP or Chakwera is negative if not outright “fake news”.

Under such circumstances, one would have expected MCP leaders to scour the lengths and breadth of the country, mounting an equally formidable counter-offensive, not just capitalising on DPP’s failures but also putting up a case why voters should bank on MCP for a better alternative in leadership.

Can a divided party be trusted to unite the many ethnic groups that constitute the Malawi nation? Is it even possible for the warring factions to sit together and brainstorm on a winning strategy?

By being petty, MCP leaders are wasting a chance to build on its October 2017 by-election victories.  If they can’t resolve conflicts within the party quickly and maturely, voters have the right to wonder whether such people have what it takes to lead a government through storms.

Do I sound like I’m desperate for MCP to win? No. Win or no win, a strong and dynamic government-in-waiting is good for democracy. That is what MCP means to all of us—government-in-waiting.

If APM promised in his New Year speech to deliver so much—zero electricity load shedding, Mombera University, roads, grow the economy, improve living standards, etc,—it’s because he is aware Chakwera’s MCP is ready to take over should DPP fail to impress.

But if MCP joins UDF and PP in oblivion, there simply won’t be any strong opposition party standing. A chill runs down my democratic spine when I think about the possibility of hearing APM or his successor  say what Kamuzu used to say: “multiparty  in Malawi died a natural death”.

Without serious competition as was the case in October 2017 by-election, the governing party will take the electorate for granted and both political and economic governance will take a turn for the worse.

A strong MCP is good for itself, for its rival on the governing side and for the electorate as a whole. If Chakwera and company don’t get this message and act appropriately, a broken MCP will only help take us back to a one-party dictatorship which we soundly rejected in 1993. That will be an act of betrayal.

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