Honourable Folks, game changer is what the Rev. Dr. Lazarus Chakwera has become in the eyes of quite a few folks I’ve changed notes with on the recent developments in MCP.
Some say the second round of the registration exercise is likely to swell due to the ‘Lazarus fever’. Delegates to the MCP convention deserve a pat on the back for ditching old man John Tembo who wanted another go at the presidency despite being barred by his own party’s constitution.
They should also be saluted for choosing Chakwera, new blood in Kamuzu Banda parlance, not yet smitten by corruption or atrocities that gave MCP a really bad name.
He, however, has quite a difficult job of transforming a party once described as of “death and darkness” to one that can be entrusted with leadership of a democracy which we only got after defeating the one-party wish of MCP in the 1993 referendum.
Reforming MCP isn’t just a matter of Tembo stepping down as party president. It’s more about rebuilding the image of the party, especially in the South and North. Tembo gave up on these regions and conducted his rallies in the Centre only. Unfortunately, for him, he could not even keep the region to MCP as was attested to in 2009 when DPP won many seats in the Centre while MCP did not get even a single seat in the other two regions.
It entails politics of inclusion, re-establishing structures in the other regions and, more importantly, selling a more assuring political agenda to the electorate. There’s hunger out there for transformational leadership and politics as usual is fast becoming synonymous with mediocrity. We can’t sit and watch as greedy leaders make us move in the cycle of abject poverty while they are busy stealing our billions.
Africa is changing for the better. All our neighbours—Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania—are transforming their economies and improving the lives of their people. With good, result-oriented leadership, we too can claim our place in the sun in this 21st century!
But charity begins at home. Chakwera has MCP’s rugged four cornerstones to scoop and polish to gem-like finish first. Now that leaders are expected to serve and not to be served, and that people are elected and kept in political offices by the will of the electorate, the cornerstones should reflect governance tenets of transparency and accountability besides upholding the virtue of tolerance.
Unity is undoubtedly a relevant cornerstone if taken as glue that binds the diverse tribes of this country into one Malawi or one MCP. However, it sounded hollow during Tembo’s leadership as MCP was reduced to a regional party for the Centre. Even then, unity was a mere cornerstone in a party mired in power-struggle between the party president and the younger folks who opposed his style of leadership.
Loyalty as a cornerstone made Kamuzu and Tembo play god. Other leaders, especially those who rise to assume the State presidency, have also demanded unflinching loyalty from those they hire to work in Cabinet and other top positions in the public sector. The results have always been disastrous. In the name of loyalty, leaders simply nod to the diktats of the hiring authority without adding value at all. They don’t oppose, they don’t share what they believe in. All they do is clap hands as long as they get a good salary and drive a good car to a good home at government’s expense.
In democracy, loyalty is for everyone, including the president and is to the Constitution, laws of the land, anthem and symbols. Simply put, it is patriotism to the Motherland. As for leaders, including the president, loyalty is like respect, always to be earned through good works and not demanded.
Likewise, obedience is a cornerstone that’s inherently dictatorial and, unless applied to a cause, the Constitution or laws of the land, it’s better replaced by tolerance.
Discipline is a cornerstone to be cherished but never to be equated with suffering oppression in silence or with a smile as was the case during Kamuzu’s and Tembo’s eras. Rather, it is following right channels when addressing issues and accepting responsibility for one’s action.
Should in the course of time, power corrupts the man of collar and he makes the mistake of equating discipline with suffering in silence, trust me, he will definitely create his own Kate Kainjas (may her soul rest in peace) and Chris Dazas who’ll look him in the face and tell him to jump into the river and drawn. If that happens, we shall be there to tell the story.