In the race for the heart, soul and presidency of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) there is only one hopeful who appears to have a plan, clearly demonstrating he knows what he wants, where to go and who to meet to get the former ruling party’s top leadership post.
No, it is obviously not Charles ‘Form Form’ Mchacha with his incoherent television interviews, hilariously checkered academic record not to talk of his stinking mouth.
It is certainly not Kondwani Nankhumwa—the impatient wannabe who wanted to see the back of his boss Peter Mutharika immediately the former president lost power in the court-ordered fresh presidential election last June.
One is never sure whether Nankhumwa is just a spoiler who only wants to use the DPP to get something resembling a bargaining chip to get into bed with someone or he really wants to be at the helm of the largest opposition in the country that boasts a nearly insurmountable political base.
The man cannot even take advantage of his position as Leader of the House and head of his party in Parliament or indeed as the grouping’s sitting vice president (South) to posture himself as an inevitable party president.
He could not even stand toe-to-toe wi8th President Lazarus Chakwera, allowing him to reduce him to a kindergarten kid during the first ever presidential question time in decades in the august House.
And as much as I like Dr. Dalitso Kabambe both as a former colleague at Treasury and whose tenure as Governor I believe was a fairly successful one, his rollout into DPP and national party politics was embarrassing to say the least and he has not done anything to change the narrative.
All I have seen are a few sycophants and opportunists who—believing that Kabambe has APM’s endorsement (which I doubt knowing the former president as I like to think I do) and, therefore, a shoe in.
Kabambe has remained out of sight since his shaky introduction and appears to like it that way. Someone should tell the former Governor that it is not enough to have a pretty face, stellar academic credentials and an impressive resume to gain the support of a party as large and as complicated as DPP.
People like to think they are backing a winning horse and Kabambe must, therefore, demonstrate not only that he can win, but that he wants to win the nomination. He must show he is hungry enough for it and will fight with everything he has got to win. Most importantly, to the public eye, he has to show that he has a plan for nailing the DPP presidency rather than just the feeling of entitlement.
Unless he is executing his strategy in secret (which makes no sense given that politics is a public fight scattered in numerous boxing rings), Kabambe appears lost and out of sorts.
But the man who is impressing is Joseph Mwanamvekha, the former Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development under APM, who is currently DPP spokesperson on finance.
Mwanamvekha appears to have spent some time after Mutharika’s election defeat to plot a strategy while Nankhumwa was busy trying to get the party presidency by blindsiding APM, the party and everyone he believed was standing in his way.
It looks to me that when Mwanamvekha finally came out to signal his interest in the DPP top leadership, he had a plan and is now executing it, apparently, to the letter. Particularly interesting is the listening tour Mwanamvekha has embarked on through the town hall meetings he has been holding for several weeks now targeting every district.
With these meetings, Mwanamvekha is achieving three things. First, he is demonstrating that he is a leader who wants to govern from the bottom-up by getting what the grassroots people—through their representatives—want in their communities. In that way, he is also projecting himself as a consensus builder.
Second, he is transmitting this message by targeting all districts: he wants DPP to be a national party and that each district deserves special attention.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, Mwanamvekha is introducing himself to DPP grassroots structures that are crucial to rebuilding the party and deciding who its next leader should be.
Mwanamvekha has understood, very early, that flamboyance only excites a gullible few, but a coherent strategy that is backed by a strong ground game gives you the real goods.
Mwanamvekha may not win the DPP presidency, but he certainly means business, shows he is strategic, demonstrates mature politics and exudes a calm calculative demeanour that the DPP needs now more than ever before.