Running to lose

A good friend asked a pertinent question on Twitter this week that had me thinking. “Each of the opposition parties agree that the ruling party has to go for mismanaging the country,” he stated, “then why not combine forces to have a united front based on a shared belief?”

The shared belief he referred to was the need to remove the DPP administration from power due to its incompetence—a fact this column has never shied away from mentioning.

The answer to my friend’s question is that they are all desperate for power. Both Saulos Chilima and Lazarus Chakwera—the principle leaders of the opposition—are only mindful about getting the presidency.

As another friend wrote on Facebook, Chilima and Chakwera believe they are shoo-in to win next year’s elections.

Yet, both men are also living in an ivory tower. The stark reality is that they will not win next year’s elections if they contest the elections separately.

And you don’t have to be Blessing Chinsinga to know this.

Forget about Joyce Banda; forget about Atupele Muluzi, Chakwera’s MCP and Chilima’s UTM are the real players with the ability to wrestle power from DPP. But they won’t do it. Not when both of them go into the major polls seeking the same voters—those frustrated by the Mutharika failures and seeking a new leadership.

The reason DPP won the 2019 elections even when it was in the opposition; even with the excess baggage of the last two years of Bingu wa Mutharika’s rule, is that the DPP, like MCP, has such a loyal and tribal base. That base is difficult to dislodge with simple campaign messaging, no matter how spectacular the campaign is.

It’s a base that has different orientation when it comes to what constitutes important national issues on which a president should be elected on, compared to, let us say, those backing Chilima and his message of transformation.

To think with such loyal base behind it, the DPP will easily lose in 2019 is a miscalculation. It’s not being cynical or anything, but it’s just being real.

There are just too many cases on the continent and in the country which remind us the foolhardy of the opposition going into such an election as a disfranchised unit. With the ruling party enjoying so many other advantages, it’s like going into a gun fight with a knife.

Yet, the DPP has destroyed the hopes of Malawians so much in the last four years through its failure to build on its past campaign promises and crucially, through its corruption and cronyism. The DPP cannot be allowed another term of failure. But another mandate is what it will get.

For, sadly, the only way DPP can be ousted from power is the way MCP and UTM don’t want to tread: a coalition. That in itself, ladies and gentlemen, is also criminal conduct by the opposition.

By default, they are complicit to the crimes of the current DPP and the next DPP government (yes, there will be another term for President Peter Mutharika folks, sigh!) because they are emboldening the DPP in many ways.

They are emboldening the DPP by showing that they are not planning to win the elections and demonstrating that they, too, are just a bunch of greedy individuals waiting for their turn to get power.

If Chakwera and Chilima cannot manage their ego and sit down and talk on working towards ousting the DPP together, they better forget about victory.

At this point, MCP and UTM strategists should get worried because as the two parties are increasingly tainted by traits of greed, many a Malawian would be forgiven for contemplating voting for the same old, bad DPP. After all, it was our forefathers who warned us that better the devil whom you know, than the devil you don’t. And DPP has not been far off from being devilish. Its continued rule beyond 2019 would be the disfranchised opposition’s making. That grouping, I should add, doesn’t include UDF which is all but DPP client party right now. n


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