The ending year will be remembered for its political surprises and new beginnings for some: vice-President Saulos Chilima kept Malawians on tenterhooks for weeks before he announced that he was starting a movement outside of the party that put him in office; Malawi Congress Party (MCP) extended an olive branch to the group that had terrorized its peace for close to two years and as expected nothing much new happened in the United Democratic Front (UDF). However, in all the excitement on the political front in recent months, an entry of My Diary of July 28, 2018, pasted below with no additions or subtractions comes to mind on the highlights:
The quote “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake” is popularly attributed to the diminutive warmonger Napoleon Bonaparte, who in his own right was a well-known war strategist.
Long before the June 6 press conference during which Vice-President Saulos Klaus Chilima hinted on his intentions to leave the party on whose ticket he was elected together with President Peter Mutharika, SKC has been credited with having a strategy about his political movements.
As weeks went by and the excitement that SKC would have anything tangible to offer waned, again murmurs of a big strategy resurfaced when he categorically indicated that he would contest as a presidential candidate and was looking to partner with other politicians.
A former marketer who brought Airtel to unprecedented heights before taking the political route, SKC must have a strategy in mind and must have been ready for anything that a panicking government could throw at him.
SKC and UTM surely must have a strategy now that time has come for the government to squeeze him out of the public space as it has happened this week.
The Cabinet in its wisdom has decided to adopt the age-old measure, inflicted on Cassim Chilumpha and then Joyce Banda later by the Democratic Progressive Party government to withdraw the Vice-President’s security detail.
Chief Secretary Llyod Muhara has gone as far as shutting the Vice-President out of any public office which SKC might use in his political campaigns ordering heads of department to only avail him assistance when he is carrying out government duties.
SKC has become an enemy of the DPP government by committing the unpardonable sin of daring to challenge his boss for the top position.
However, such decisions to show the Vice-President who is boss will just give UTM the momentum it needed to get as much support in the coming months that it would have otherwise have not.
Such efforts to intimidate Chilima will backfire on the DPP in the long run and they will only have themselves to blame.
Withdrawing his security and whatever nefarious plans the DPP government has in store to hit back will just drive SKC and his movement to resist even further from cowering in the face of such intimidation.
If the UTM strategy did not include mind play, the withdrawal of the Vice-President’s security detail will propel the team to invoke memories of how the DPP mistreated Chilumpha and then Joyce Banda to gain sympathy from the masses.
In the end, this war and the resulting election will not be won by the number of road construction projects across the country only to be abandoned or how many community colleges churn out youths who go out into the world where they have no means to obtain start-up loans for small scale businesses.
The election will be won by the sympathetic vote that SKC will get if he and his team stick to the maxim that as a constitutionally elected Vice-President, he deserves protection of the Police and has every right to exercise his political rights.
Hopefully, the DPP realises that the rural voters are no longer ignorant of town politics and what they really want from a government.
Just recently, electoral stakeholders observed that people were refusing to register because politicians, in particular the current government, did not inspire confidence in them.
Woe to DPP if the rest of the registration exercise will not bring out high numbers of voters all with the intention of ousting this government.
Chilima must have prepared for this eventuality if what he said at Masintha ground is anything to go by that he is not afraid. He had a ready proverb to support this: ‘Mbewa ya pampani siwopa moto’. n