Monday’s coup d’état in the People’s Party (PP) seemed like the right thing to do. PP’s leader, Joyce Banda, has displayed all the signs of a reluctant and, sometimes, clueless captain of a rudderless ship that is riding choppy waters.
After that coup and the subsequent developments, we now know that those who thought regionalism was on its way to the grave celebrated way too early. We—particularly politicians—think about protecting the interests of our respective regions first before the national concerns. We also know that parties’ constitutions (even Malawi’s own Constitution) are just worthless collections of high sounding legal jargon which nobody cares for. We further know that Banda has the devil-may-care attitude towards her leadership of the party and couldn’t care less if anyone led it so long as she was left alone to brood over her losses.
Since PP’s elective convention in 2013, Banda has lost vice-presidents faster—and more of them—than a Standard One pupil would lose her pencils in a year. Alright, I admit, I may have exaggerated but, if within two years of refreshing your leadership, you have had five deputies—three elected and two appointed—ditching you, it is serious indictment on your suitability as a leader. Maybe not even a Standard One pupil could be that careless with her pencils.
JB, to be fair, hasn’t done herself any favours by holing up in South Africa, insulating herself from the challenges and the insults her followers have to live up with.
That alone would have been enough to call for a convention—or whatever instruments it is that manages these matters—to push for a leadership that is amicable as it is acceptable. Or even a coup d’état.
Hence, the Monday putsch would have assumed a veneer of acceptability and respectability had the coup plotters done the right thing by seeking a consensus of like-minded individuals from a broad spectrum of the party’s membership across all the regions.
Alas! It lost all pretentions of righteousness after its leaders reduced the coup to a regional affair than a national concern they wanted it to be or it should have been.
Former vice-president Khumbo Kachali may be an astute politician but some of the characters which PP regional leader for north Christopher Mzomera Ngwira cited as making him fit for the leadership of the party are laughable at best and pathetic at worst.
Ngwira suggested that the mere fact that Kachali has a police officer assigned to him—that by virtue of his position as former vice-president, a position to which, rather than being elected to, he was simply appointed—made him the ideal person to lead PP. Maybe. Maybe not.
Kachali became Malawi’s vice-president without subjecting himself to the will of people nationally. In terms of national politics, he is as raw as any and to imagine he would command universal respect and support in the PP, let alone nationally, is gullibility redefined.
Let’s not forget, Kachali is a turncoat of some fearsome reputation. He was in the United Democratic Front (UDF) and when it seemed its fortunes were changing for the worse, Kachali was one of the first people to bale out for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
After being chucked out of DPP alongside Banda, they founded PP, where fortune—fate, maybe—found him in the right place at the right time when he was appointed Malawi vice-president following the death of Bingu wa Mutharika.
Last year when Banda made it subtly known to Kachali that he was unelectable as vice-president, he threw a fit and campaigned for President Peter Mutharika against his own leader.
One year on, after Mutharika has ignored him for rewards for his sweat in the campaign, Kachali and his minions would have us believe he is the next best thing to lead PP to glory. Maybe he is, depending on the standards the party is aspiring for. After all, even cockroaches have leaders but that doesn’t make them better than the vermin they are leading.