“Politics,” once said late former speaker of Parliament and United Democratic Front (UDF) founding member, Sam Mpasu, “is not about coronation”.
Mpasu, in vain, attempted to fight back against the ‘personalisation’ of UDF by the Muluzi family.
Coronation, by the way, is not a democratic process. It’s monarchial or dictatorial way of passing the leadership baton through bloodlines.
In UK, the ceremonial monarchy is a good example. North Korea, the hermit kingdom with its Kim dynasty, would probably be the worst example.
Leaders are not put in office because they are smart or most popular, but because they are family to those who wield power.
Atupele Muluzi’s coronation as UDF leader went on smoothly this week, or almost.
He went unchallenged by anyone—with Lucius Banda, long expected to mount a challenge, deciding that supporting Saulos Chilima’s presidential bid is a more reasonable adventure than vying for UDF leadership.
UDF long stopped attracting talented politicians, only stooges who can stand the monopoly of power by the Muluzis.
The coronation could have ended without much fanfare, save for remarks by the party’s founding president Bakili Muluzi, father of the incumbent leader.
Muluzi caused a storm by calling for leaders across the political divide to respect one another, a rational statement any other day.
That, ladies and gentlemen, though, is the biggest joke this country has ever heard from Muluzi’s otherwise wide repertoire.
Muluzi, by a stretch, is the most foul-mouthed politician this country has ever known. He has no moral ground, whatsoever, to lecture anyone about decency in politics.
And after attempting, in vain, to hijack our democracy by ending presidential term limits (so that he could prolong his stay in office), there are few lessons on democracy in general Muluzi must be allowed to dish out.
He is not, by any stretch of imagination, a statesman. He is an ex-president who didn’t willfully give up power. He still wants to wield power via his son. And yet to be cleared from serious corruption allegations from his time in power.
He has used his unique position and skills as a cunning political operator to turn UDF into a personal estate—eliminating all viable leadership options.
And he is not done. That we know.
He is the chief reason the once powerful UDF is a shell of its former self; and why we all can predict, even in absence of a credible opinion polls, that UDF will not win next year’s elections.
The best UDF can achieve is aid another party’s victory, hence the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)—under severe pressure ahead of next year’s elections—sending a powerful delegation to patronise its client.
What happened for UDF was preventable and must act as dire warning to other parties, especially ruling DPP.
No party in a democracy can survive the poison of greed and arrogance. Parties that embrace democracy and servant leadership, on the other hand, thrive.
Muluzi mistook UDF popularity in its heydays as a licence for eternal rule and golden ticket to rule as he pleased.
Such open display of selfishness and greed, in the end, brought UDF to its knees.
And President Peter Mutharika and his DPP better heed this lesson.
There is an elephant in the room Mutharika and his DPP are deliberately ignoring but which Malawians aren’t.
The story of how K145 million from an alleged fraudulent deal between Malawi Police Service and a supplier of food rations ended up in a bank account Mutharika solely controlled—is an Achilles heel for the President, in many ways.
Politically, it’s an Achilles heels because it will not go away, as the President may wish. The President and his spin doctors cannot change the narrative over this, too, try as they may. Malawians know that the money belongs to poor taxpayers, period!
And it’s akin to showing the middle finger to all the talk about fighting corruption.
Legally, by keeping money which the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) suspect is proceeds of crime, Mutharika is also making himself vulnerable, in many ways.
It might not worry him today, thanks to immunity of office, but you don’t have to be a lawyer to know that holding on to proceeds of crime, as alleged in this case, is a crime.
In an election where corruption is a central issue, Mutharika’s rivals have motivation to keep this issue in public conscience and beg Malawians, reeling from economic hardships, to vent their anger on the President. n